On Sponsorship of the World

“Choose not then to cleave to this aged world, and to be unwilling to grow young in Christ” (Augustine of Hippo).

Heartlight, Inc (2004)

Heartlight, Inc (2004)

My Lord do not allow for me to become ensnared by the sponsorship of the world which is at enmity with You (1 Jn. 2:15), to go after the commendation of men who have set their ways against You (Ps. 25). I know how tough and painful this demanding act of renunciation can be, it wars against both the spirit and the flesh (1 Jn. 2:16). Strengthen me and allow for the Holy Ghost to inspire me to “not be conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2), to fight against this temptation which is ever before me, to forswear earthly prizes and approvals (1 Cor. 1:27). I fall often, but help me to see, my God, that this is a source of great turmoil and of grave danger to my heart (Rom 8:5). For I was created and shaped to serve You alone, I was commanded by Your word to bow down to no one save for You (Deut. 5:7). I cannot have many masters for then I become a “house divided” and will not stand (Matt. 12:25). The more I campaign after earthly praise, the more I will stray from the commendation of Heaven and look for the approval of those around me (Lk. 16:15). I have a choice, the decaying wreaths and short-lived glory of this world which is “passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31), or the incorruptible “crown of life” of Your eternal kingdom (Rev. 2:10). It is difficult to be sure, for I am mocked and scorned, but once I begin upon this consecrated road, establishing myself securely in Your ways, “grace” and the “gift of righteousness” will follow and abound (Rom. 5:17).

Dear Lord, renew my mind, even if this might mean the realization of my most improbable prayers and the putting on of heavy armour.

Let us not aspire to be famous

“Fame has also this great drawback, that if we pursue it, we must direct our lives so as to please the fancy of men” (Baruch Spinoza).

An ink and wash sketch on the theme of Percy Bysshe Shelley's 'Ozymandias' (Date Unknown)  The Serendipity Project

An ink and wash sketch on the theme of Percy Bysshe Shelley's 'Ozymandias' (Date Unknown) The Serendipity Project

Let us not aspire to be famous and to be highly esteemed. These are two of our greatest enemies, and should we ever rise to such dizzy heights (outside the grace and providence of the Creator) these infernal liars will destroy us, and through us they will hurt others. How long will your fame last? What wisdom will it deliver you? What benefit the praise for a season? How will you respond when your flatterers find fault with you? These ‘terrible’ gifts, if not used correctly and put to the service of others, are self-seeking aspirations which ultimately invite hubris and bring injury to the soul. In a beautiful psalm (Ps 72) where the attributes of a great King are enumerated by Solomon, “fame” is connected to the righteous deeds of the royal ruler and it is in this way that “the name endure[s] for ever”. For the ancient Greeks honour and reputation would ordinarily be conferred after death when the evidence of a life could be weighed and tested. Our greatest legacy is our character which is built up invisibly and in secret. Unmerited fame and artificial praise, history has revealed to us, do enormous damage to our spirit (in the sense of our dispositions and attitudes) and they can result in a caricature of the true self. We are weak and frail beings to begin with, and these worldly acclamations only serve to magnify our flaws and vulnerabilities. Honour and glory are often confused with fame. By all means  let us aspire after greatness, it is a different thing altogether. Our fathers and mothers, those who minister to the sick and to the dying, the poor and abused who have not given up on hope, the orphans and those who are hungry, these are the ones to whom honour and glory are due. The quality of worthiness is to be discovered here. It is here, in these disregarded palaces, that truth and reality are to be found. “Lord, I have too often sought the sponsorship of the world, running after its temporal prizes which rust and crumble but You have taken pity on me, and You have bent me, lest I confuse those things which store grace in me with those which steal them away.”