For years I’ve lived in Indiana, PA, hometown of the famous actor Jimmy Stewart. Jimmy was a classy guy and many local residents take pride in any type of connection with him. He came home in 1983 for a big parade on his 75th birthday (Debi and I watched from our apartment window.). The parade culminated with the unveiling of a large bronze statue of Jimmy that still stands in front of our county courthouse. Stop by and get a picture some time when you visit the Jimmy Stewart museum next door.
Although I am much too young to have known Jimmy as a childhood friend (I did see him in the parade through our window), upon visiting the museum with friends I was elated to learn that his childhood bed was identical to my childhood bed! I couldn’t believe it and practically jumped out of my shoes! I wanted to climb under the rope barrier to see if perhaps it had the two little screw holes that I had drilled for a radio switch when I was a teenager. I mean, there’s a seriously good possibility that they are actually displaying the very same bed I painfully parted with at a garage sale!
Since that day I’ve had a new confidence in my step. Not only do I live in Jimmy Stewart’s hometown, not only can I see his statue on the way to my office, not only was our former apartment only a block from the place of his birth at 965 Philadelphia Street, but Jimmy and I had the same childhood bed! There’s just something really cool about being connected with someone of significance.
There have been a lot of famous personalities through the course of history and any of us would be elated to somehow be connected with most of them. And yet, like Jimmy, they all pass on—most fading into obscurity.
I know it sounds geeky, but recently I’ve been reading the 938 page Volume I of The Story of Civilization by Will Durant. I was surprised to discover that India was once one of the most prosperous civilizations on the planet, full of wealth and enduring for centuries. They’ve also had some amazing and powerful rulers—each incredibly significant in his day. In his day. Check out this quote from a footnote I found on pages 456-7:
“…there were wealthy capitals, luxurious palaces, and mighty potentates; but so vast is India, and so long is its history, that in this congested paragraph we must pass by, without so much as mentioning them, men who for a time thought they dominated the earth. For example, Vikramaditya, who ruled the Chalyukans for half a century (1076-1126), was so successful in war that (like Nietzsche) he proposed to found a new chronological era, dividing all history into before him and after him. Today he is a footnote.”
“Today he is a footnote.” Ouch! On the other hand, Jesus Christ is the greatest and most enduring personality ever to have walked this earth. Many continue to respect Him, but to truly identify with Christ means to embrace the whole of Him. This means believing and actually following His teachings—an approach that often brings ridicule. Our culture much prefers buffet-style religion, picking and choosing what seems to taste best or avoiding those truths that may offend the sensibilities of others.
When thinking about significance we really need to consider lastability. Every important voice in our world will eventually fall silent; their opinions becoming meaningless and their glory fading into obscurity. Only those who choose to identify with Christ in this age will find a glory that lasts for all eternity.
I don’t know how many professing Christians would proudly attend the Jesus Christ of Nazareth Non-celebrity Golf Tournament, but some day those tickets will be in serious demand!