Monday, October 04, 2021

It’s tough at the top

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 

These days we are inundated with reality TV shows – talent shows like X factor, Britain’s got talent, the Voice and many others.  People are striving to make a name for themselves, but there is nothing new in that.

His initials were W.W., and in the 1930s and 1940s they were enough to identify him to most of America. He was widely considered the creator of modern gossip writing, and in his heyday this rude, abrasive, egotistical and witty man was the country's best known and most widely read journalist and one of its most influential. 

In 1943, when there were 140 million people in the United States, more than 50 million of them read his gossip column every day in more than 1000 newspapers, including his flagship, The New York Daily Mirror. Even more people listened to his weekly radio broadcast. Hated, feared and revered, he presided over Table 50 of the Stork Club in New York, creating and destroying celebrities at the drop of his trademark fedora. 
Yet when he died in 1972, at age 74, he was practically forgotten. Only two people attended his funeral; his daughter, Walda, and the rabbi who officiated at his services. Today, not many people under 40 even know the name of Walter Winchell.

Tennis star Boris Becker was at the very top of the tennis world -- yet he was on the brink of suicide. He said, "I had won Wimbledon twice before, once as the youngest player. I was rich. I had all the material possessions I needed.  It is the old song of movie stars and pop stars who commit suicide. They have everything, and yet they are so unhappy. "I had no inner peace. I was a puppet on a string."

Becker is not the only one to feel that sense of emptiness. The echoes of a hollow life pervade our culture. We do not have to read many contemporary biographies to find the same frustration and disappointment. Jack Higgins, author of such successful novels and The Eagle Has Landed, was asked what he would like to have known as a boy. His answer: "That when you get to the top, there's nothing there." 

Of course, the top place is not only a lonely place, but it is a passing one.  The whims of public opinion move on to other favourites and celebrities continually struggle to maintain their fame and popularity.  Some popular figures even destroy themselves in the eyes of the public through careless lifestyles and bad choices.  Most would agree, it’s “tough at the top!”

In contrast to all of this, it is amazing to think that there was one who was at the highest place possible, and yet laid it all aside voluntarily and chose the lowest place in society for the sake of others. 

The Bible describes it this way – 
Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.   (Philippians 2 v 6-8 NLT)

Who was this man?  It was the Lord Jesus Christ.  Why did He take this incredible step? He did it so that you and I might know Him and belong to Him.  In His death He took our punishment and bore our sin.  As a result, He offers us the gift of eternal life through faith and trust in His sacrifice upon the cross.

One hymnwriter put it this way….
What kind of greatness can this be
That chose to be made small?
Exchanging untold majesty
For a world so pitiful
That God should come as one of us
I'll never understand
The more I hear the story told
The more amazed I am
Oh what else can I do
But kneel and worship you
And come just as I am
My whole life an offering

Written by Stephen Treseder for Messages with Meaning (03/10/21) and Your542Day 


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