The prophet Daniel was, as some might call it, an alpha male. He was handsome, fit, intelligent and wise. What’s more, God occasionally saw fit to speak through him and perform miracles on his behalf. He’s the kind of guy who, if he had a Twitter account today, would have millions of followers. Can’t you just picture handsome Daniel’s smiling face in a selfie with the sleeping lions, #blessed?
But over and over in the book of Daniel, we see that he had no interest in self-promotion—even to the point of turning down jewelry, robes and high positions (Daniel 5:17). His sole purpose was to bring honor and praise to the one true God, repeatedly pointing the Babylonian kings to Him.
Fast forward to present day. The satirical illustration on the back of Eugene Cho’s book Overrated perhaps says it all: An idealized Super Man-esque illustration of Cho holding the world in his hands while snapping a selfie of his chiseled heroics.
In an age when our private lives have become public lives and when fighting injustice and poverty has become trendy, Cho urges us to slow down and ask some difficult questions:
“If you want to change the world, then why, exactly, do you want to do that?”
Is it for your own selfishness? For your own greed? For your own happiness?
Much has been said about how this generation will be the one to change the world and right the wrongs of injustice. But, Cho warns, if our actions grow out of our instant self-gratification culture instead of a deep commitment to Christ and prayer, discernment and listening to God, our zeal will fizzle and we will become the most overrated generation.
Cho confesses that at the beginning of his own attempt to start a non-profit, he was “more enamored with the idea of changing the world and less enamored with actually doing it.” What he found is that the “actually doing it” was not that fun or glamorous of a process at all.
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Although God wants to use us to change the world, He is also concerned with changing us. That is often a very painful process. It is the cost of discipleship. As Cho says,
“In seeking to do justice, we have to be open to the reality that God will challenge us, change us, and transform us.”
In Overrated, Cho, much like Daniel, continually points us back to God. If you are reading this blog, you already care about helping others.
In your concern for the poor, stay rooted in Christ. Spend time in self-examination asking yourself why you do what you do. Spend time—lots of time—in prayer before you begin a new work for God.
“Remember, we do what we do not for people’s applause but for God’s glory,” Cho reminds us.
As a step for all of us, why don’t we take some time to think through some questions (difficult questions)? Here are a few from the book and inspired by the book:
- What role do you believe simplicity has or can have in your life to weaken the power money has over you?
- Does your motivation to save children have more to do with you than the children?
- Is your motivation to be at the center of the story?
- What are you passionate about?
- How are you going deep to gain a broader understanding of what you’re passionate about?
- What steps can you take to ensure that you stay rooted in Christ as you seek to help people in poverty?
Let’s spend some time praying and reflecting on how God might be working in our own lives and how he might want to change and challenge our hearts!