To me, the teachings of A. W. Tozer remain timeless. Perhaps no one else in history resonates with me as he does. Though he passed away nearly sixty years ago, his words are as relevant today as they were when he was preaching. The things he said are almost prescient. In a quote I read from him this week, he said, “I am not in the business of promoting myself; I am in the business of surrendering to the Holy Spirit.”
Today, self-promotion is all the rage. It’s all about how many followers we have on Facebook, how many likes we have on Instagram, and whether we’re trending on Twitter. A new goal for many is to produce a video that goes viral on YouTube. Today the aim is getting the eyeballs of others to look at what we’re doing.
I went to high school in the 1980s and remember reading reports saying my generation was the most selfish in history. I don’t know if that’s true, but it was a decade of excess. If the 80s were the most selfish, I would have to say our current era is the most self-absorbed. We have far fewer genuine friendships, but many more “friends”. There is little depth to the lives of many. We don’t have deep relationships because we’re too busy figuring out an angle that would benefit ourselves. Self-promotion is ruling the day, and we don’t even realize how adverse this is to living life as a disciple of Jesus.
According to Jesus, we are to promote two things in life (Matthew 22:38). First, we are to promote Him. Second, we are to promote others. There was no number three in his teaching, which means self-promotion did not make the cut. Jesus lived a selfless life. He had many opportunities to promote Himself, and even more where the crowds were encouraging Him to do so. Yet He never went down that path. It was foreign to Him. For Jesus, life was about glorifying God and loving others. This was not only His mission, it is who He is.
If we want to live for Jesus, we need to get off the road of self-promotion. It doesn’t matter what the culture is telling us to pursue. All that matters is what Jesus is telling us to do. Serving others is a tough argument to advance in a society being taught to put their interests first. It’s almost like we’re speaking an unfamiliar language. That’s why Peter said we were to be a peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9). Why should we care if people laugh at us for being different? I submit others shaking their heads at us might just be an affirmation that we are living life as Christ instructed us to live it.
We need to say goodbye to self-promotion and surrender our lives to Jesus. That is where genuine life exists. If we want to have the fullest life possible, we will find it only in serving Jesus, not ourselves (John 10:10). Turn off the noise. Silence the voices calling you to live like everyone else. Ours is an ancient way, one that is eternal and never changing. To follow Jesus is the only way to know peace. To bask in His love, mercy, and grace is the most exhilarating feeling you will ever know. Our lives must be all about Jesus. Anything else is a cheap imitation and will lead to frustration, heartache, and death. Let’s all live our lives promoting God’s glory and loving others. It’s what Jesus told us to do.