Sunday, March 9, 2014

Making a name

April 7, 1947. That was the day that Henry Ford died. Ford was a pioneer who was responsible for the development of mass production, and of course was the founder of the Ford Motor Company. He died 67 years ago. And today, the last of his grandchildren followed him to the grave.

LIfe is short, and then we die. It's easy to think that the way to active a measure of immorality is to make a name for ourselves. Maybe our legacy will outlive us in such a way that it will give life significance. If we have children, we can pass our name along to them and our influence will live long after.

But, as the death of William Clay Ford today illustrates, they will be gone one day too. And then what will be come of our name.

Advertising agencies understand the futility of building up one's own name.* Look at the ad above. You know the product, and if you're like me, you love it. Coca-Cola. But do you know the name of the ad agency that developed the ad. I doubt it. And neither do I. Because their job isn't to promote their own name. It's to promote the name of the client. In this case, Coke.

And this is why John the Baptist answered the way he did in John 3:22-30. Those who followed John were starting to get jealous of the success that Jesus was having in his ministry. They went to John and told him that Jesus was attracting more followers. At the heart of John's response was this simple statement about Jesus: "He must become greater; I must become less."

And that is the essence of life. If I spend my time trying to build a name for myself, it will be an exercise in futility. Oh, I may make some temporary headway. I may become famous or at least highly respected.

Don't get me wrong. Your name is a very valuable thing, probably the most personal thing you possess. I have spent a career trying to build up a name as an actuary. I have spent a life building a name as a loving uncle and family member. And I have certainly tried to have a name synonymous with integrity.

But that 's all about me. And it can all come crashing down in an instant, fair or not, as it did for Joseph in Pharoah's court (see Genesis 39). And if not, it will eventually fade from the earth's memory.

But what if I'm about building another name. What if I say with John, "He must increase; I must decrease." What if I'm like the ad agencies where my interest is building not my name, but the name of Jesus. That's something with eternal significance, something that can give life meaning.

I love the approach of my pastor Tim Thompson, who starts his day with this prayer: Let there be more of Jesus, and less of me. If we could all do that, life would be a whole lot better….for all of us.

* The idea for this post was totally borrowed from Rev. Tim Thompson's Sunday message this morning at Frazer Church.

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