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Achieving Greatness

I must confess that I’m not sleeping well.  I thought that the older I got the better sleeper I would be, but that has proved false.  Here lately I’ve been waking up at 3am and venturing off to the living room sofa to try and get back to sleep.  It’s having less than desirable effects for getting back to sleep, so, to help, the iPad and Netflix have been coming with me to the sofa.

One night this week I watched Good Will Hunting and a couple of nights ago I watched Suits.  I couldn’t help but notice that the main characters of both were essentially one and the same.  Will Hunting, a troubled youngster from South Boston who is the next Einstein, and Michael Ross, the troubled youngster from NYC with a photographic memory and the potential to think his way out of difficult situations.  Both shows are not wholesome, and it would seem to me that neither is particularly well written, but for some reason, both ‘super-genius’ characters are strangely appealing.  What is it about these characters, then, that fascinate us so?

Both super smart kids exude a sense of greatness.  Sure, both come from the gutter, but their potential is surely endless.  Through their gifts and with the right direction and mentoring, you come away with the feeling that they will become truly great.  And society today is certainly obsessed with greatness.  It has probably always been this way for it strikes at the heart of something that lies in all our hearts…the desire to be truly great.  If ‘escape’ is the foundation of all entertainment, then watching shows depicting great people with great minds allows us to maybe live a little vicariously through all of these.  Because let’s face it, how many of us will ever attain true greatness in this life?  Whether it’s mathematics, or law, or sport, or fill in the blank; most of us will probably never attain to it no matter how hard we try.

This desire for true greatness and the realization that it will never be possible for me in work, life, family, etc. is one of the most appealing things for me about the Gospel.  The Gospel stares each one of us in the face and tells us that we will never attain to anything close to true greatness.  The standard is simply too high and the gifts we’ve been given will never get us anywhere close to accomplishing what we so desperately desire.  You see, the Gospel says to us that there’s only one person who is truly great.  That man’s name is Jesus Christ.  How is he truly great?  Two ways.

First, we see true greatness in Jesus’ life.  He attained a standard that nobody before him and that nobody since has ever achieved.  Time and time again Jesus resisted the temptation to sin and thus kept God’s perfect standard of righteousness, perfectly.  Second, Jesus died a perfect death.  Okay, it wasn’t perfect from a worldly standard.  In fact, it was quite the opposite when viewed from those eyes; wrongly accused, poorly defended in court, sentenced unjustly, and killed by the cruelest method ever invented, crucifixion.  But it was a perfect death in that it atoned for all our sin.  And so, in both ways Jesus attained true greatness.  And this is very good news.

This means that the only way that you or I can become truly great is by being connected to Jesus.  By faith, we can do just that.  When I put my trust in Him, I am claiming his righteousness, his greatness, and not my own.  And thus, the longing of my own heart is fulfilled in Christ, and only in Him.  But also, all those times I’ve strived for my own greatness and failed, those times have been taken away.  My sin has been paid for in full in Christ.  His great death was my great salvation.  His great life is my great life.  And by his truly great power, I have the power to become greater and greater.  Praise be the Lord!