Don't Worry, No One Will Remember You
New media enabled by the internet draws out our latest desires for self-promotion and self-importance. We create our online persona by gathering followers, liking photos, tweeting and retweeting, and pinning what we think the world needs to know about us. In a recent article, psychiatrist Keith Ablow warned that we are raising a generation of deluded narcissists. He argues, "We must beware of the toxic psychological impact of media and technology on children, adolescents, and young adults, particularly as it regards turning them into faux celebrities—the equivalent of lead actors in their own fictionalized life stories."
Christians are fighting this temptation through blog posts and books encouraging obscurity and self-forgetfulness. We know that the pursuit of greatness and glory is empty, meaningless, and will not bring peace.
The good news is we don't have to fight too hard to be forgotten, because we will be. Each one of us is but a breath away from death and complete disregard. We won't be remembered, because there are billions of people in the same boat. Few will even make the history books. The same goes for our children. Entire generations will not be remembered.
Why is this good news? Because as we fight pride and embrace obscurity, we can then shift our focus on going hard for Christ.
It's good to focus our attention on killing sin because we know that the wages of sin is death. We want to fight sin and temptation through God's Word and by the power of His Spirit. But when fighting pride, we might be tempted to withdraw from serving due to a fear of sinning or perhaps the fear of man. We focus on the pride by calling it out and naming it for what it is, but perhaps we do not think through the proper means to fight it.
If I remember that sin remains in me, I can walk out my faith without the fear of sinning. I already know I will sin. I know that I will have to fight the temptation to be prideful. I don't take this lightly. But to fight sin by retreating (though at times it may be necessary) isn't always the answer. At times we must push through and trust God's Word when Jesus said, "It is finished."
Run Hard, Serve Hard
You have ambitions, goals, and dreams for serving the Lord for the benefit of the body of Christ. But you aren't stepping out because you don't want to be proud. Maybe you have an article to write that might build the faith of others, but you don't want to share it. This is where forgetfulness comes in handy. You will be forgotten, but God's Word doesn't return void. We can step out in faith and share it.
Addressing these matters of pride and service, Dave Harvey writes in his book Rescuing Ambition:
When God speaks, you have two options. You can flee in an attempt to protect yourself from the risk of obedience. Jonah tried that. But God loves us too much to approve our exit strategy. Jonah eventually understood that, but not before spending three nights in Hotel Humpback.
The second option is to move forward in faith, not dismissing the risk, but accepting it as part of the path.
There are risks to running the race set before us. It's not meant to be comfortable. When faced with this fear of sinning, find peace in God's Word that you are forgiven and then run hard for Christ. Don't allow fear to stifle your service. Fear of sinning twists the gospel by saying Jesus' finished work on the cross was enough for our salvation but not enough for us to finish the race. That's not what the Word of God says. Rather, "his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3). With that comes great promises and power through the Spirit.
I don't write as a critic outside the social media craze. I'm with you wondering about pride and ambition. But I find comfort in knowing that God can help us join Paul in saying "for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me" (Philippians 1:21-22). Our labor for the Lord may look drastically different, but our ambition can indeed be gospel-centered.
Again, we learn from Harvey:
The unstoppable gospel requires a fierce ambition to put it into play. Paul said, "I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named" (Rom. 15:20). For Paul to get the gospel to new places and new people, he had to "make it [his] ambition."
Having an ambition for the gospel pushes us to do things we never expected. It incites us to look beyond the borders of our comfort and convenience. The gospel stokes ambition by making audacious claims upon it.
We can boldly and ambitiously, without fear, proclaim Christ in this world. We need to. Now is not the time for Christians to retreat. Let's proclaim boldly and with great faith knowing that God will get the glory. He will not be mocked.