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Big Names

November 15, 2009


(From our Monthly Bulletin)

They say you know you are famous when everyone knows you by your first name. Tiger, Conan, Oprah – you get the idea. Of all those first-name basis celebrities, some stand out from the crowd.

For instance – Elvis. I grew up in Memphis, where Elvis is immortalized by Graceland and idolized by the thousands who visit his grave every year. While I am not an avid Elvis fan, I have toured Graceland, and I have a few Elvis songs on my Ipod. (Not to brag or anything, but I am also distantly related to Sam Phillips, Elvis’ manager.) My senior year in high school, I did a research paper on the life of Elvis. This afforded me the opportunity to visit the Historical Room in the downtown public library and spread out copies of old Memphis newspapers to read. I distinctly remember the issues of Memphis Press-Schmitar that reported on his death. In my research, I had read a great deal about his early life – the spreading fame, the gold records, the packed concerts – that I had not thought much about his death. But on that humid Memphis afternoon in a musty, upstairs room surrounded by nothing but newspapers and silence, I came face to face with the mortality of Memphis’ most famous local celebrity. What happens when we realize that fame doesn’t last forever? What then?

And how about Donald? Or more accurately, “the Donald,” as he is often called. He and Elvis don’t have much in common (they do both have famous hair, just for different reasons), but they are both “first-name” figures. Donald Trump’s career has been reborn for a new generation with the T.V. show “The Apprentice.” Whether the regular version or the current celebrity-driven incarnation, I have to admit that I can still get hooked on an episode. There is just something about a tension-filled boardroom scene where every viewer is waiting to hear Trump utter those famous words: “You’re fired.” But he made another statement in a recent documentary interview that is even more telling, saying, “I will never be satisfied with what I have. I will always want more.” Really? Stop and think about that for a minute – if Donald Trump does not have enough wealth to gain satisfaction, what hope is there for anyone else? So often, we live our lives with the unspoken assumption reinforced by every commercial; if we could just have more, our lives would be complete. What happens when we realize fulfillment isn’t found in the boardroom or on a T.V. show? What then?

There actually is an answer to both those questions, and get this – it is a name. Jesus. Actually, this name is quite different from the other two mentioned in important ways. He never had a “Graceland” to call home, but even more people have made special trips to the land of His birth and life than all Graceland visitors combined. He never ran a large organization, although millions over the years have dedicated their lives to following His leadership. But the main difference is that Jesus answers the questions neither of the other two (nor anyone else) can answer. Fame doesn’t last forever, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Money doesn’t bring us fulfillment, but Jesus brings an abundant life (John 10:10). The only way to have an inheritance that lasts is an eternal one, and the only place that is found is in Jesus Christ.

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