Anonymity, Hiddenness and Isolation as Shaping Forces in Jesus Life and Ours

By Stephen W. SmithFriends, I've started my new book--the fruit of much of my research, private thinking and reflection for this past couple of years. It's called, The Jesus Life. In the book, I'm going to focus on some, not so talked about parts of Jesus life as an example of how we need to reconsider our own lives.But I'm posting here...cause I'd like to invite you into the process. If you can read this; then give me some feedback. What part did you like? What seemed lame and weak. Leave it in the comment section...and oh, by the way, consider subscribing to the blog that way you can keep up and have it send directly to your email. Thanks so much.This week, I'm focusing on three aspects of Jesus Life: obscurity, hiddenness and isolation. This trinity of shaping forces, really shaped Jesus life in a big, big way.  See what you think. This chapter is not finished here. I'll add another section later on this week.Again, I WANT and need your feedback.Thanks, Steve"...be content with obscurity, like Christ"  Colossians 3:3, the MessageLiving in obscurity runs counter-cultural in a world that is hyped by the thirst for fame; the lust for recognition and the drive to become a celebrity. The quick and amazing rise of social networks such as  Facebook, Twitter and other growing social media networks make notoriety and fame instantly available for even the average person to go online and write a blog, upload a movie clip and have a following.  Here, one person connects with another person and forms a cyber community. Social networking is the phenomenon of providing a way of connecting people through the socialization of the Internet and electronics. This fast, growing and pervasive phenomenon is growing exponentially.Consider these statistics:

  • · By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers…. 96% of them have joined a social network
  • · Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media
  • Years to Reach 50 millions Users:  Radio (38 Years), TV (13 Years), Internet (4 Years), iPod (3 Years)…Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months…iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.
  • If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 4th largest between the United States and Indonesia (note that Facebook is now creeping up – recently announced 300 million users)[1]

The fastest growing genre of media entertainment on television is called, “reality shows.” These inexpensively made; eager to be exploited “stars” in the making, and most importantly real, and live stories reveal the most mundane events to the more absurd. It’s all for a world eager to watch and become obsessed by what is going to happen to this family; this child; this dog, this –anything by the next episode. You better watch it or you’ll be left out.Parents faked a flying saucer scenario for their young son to supposedly be kidnapped by aliens and televised and watched by millions of Americans who were transfixed on what was going to happen. It was a ploy to gain momentum to begin their own reality show. One newspaper in Denver, called it, “One Minute of Fame Gone Bad” because it was discovered to be a hoax. A woman has octuplets and grabs the next tier of fame by being on entertainment shows and conducting interviews with some of the most respected newscasters in the world. In a recent interview “Octo-Mom” as this woman has come to be known is considering her own “reality” show where the lives of the eight new children will be new TV stars in their own rights.In December 2009, a glamorously dressed couple made headlines when they supposedly “crashed”—came uninvited—to a White House State Dinner. Within moments, this couple had uploaded pictures of themselves standing next to the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of India.  They had somehow gone through several layers of protection from the Secret Service, Marine Guards and the White House’s own Social Secretary who managed the guest list. In one photograph uploaded to their own Facebook page, the woman has her hand on the chest of the Vice President of the United States. Everyone is smiling. Everyone is famous. Everyone seems happy.Fifteen minutes of fame and notoriety can propel a previously unknown person into book deals, television appearances and the glamorous lifestyle of the rich and famous.We are lured into the private lives of ordinary men and women who might be living an unordinary moment in the timeline of their lives and watch with addictive impulses and scared to miss an episode to find out what is going to happen next. Who will share the secret, stories and scandals that will boost ratings, increase wealth and give even more visibility around the world? Could it be you? Would anyone be interested in your story?People who live anonymous and obscure lives must be boring—we are led to conclude. People who seek obscurity must be uninteresting because if there was anything interesting or important to know, surely they would have been “discovered” and already have a following. The condition of being unknown—be it in athletics, music, business, politics or even in church seems like a total waste of one’s life. Leaving a legacy of obscurity and anonymity seems so wasteful; so inefficient; so incompetent in our fetishes for recognition and fame.The temptation to be famous and great is as old as the cunning enticement of Satan when he lured Jesus himself to the top of desert peaks promising Jesus grandeur, greatness and glory if he would only bow to a lesser god. In Matthew’s account of the temptation, we see Jesus being tempted in three major areas of life:  Jesus was challenged to meet his own needs first (turn the rocks into bread, Matthew 4:3-4); do something spectacular (throw himself down from the spire of the Temple, Matthew 4:5-6); and to do something powerful (the enticement of kingdoms and splendor, Matthew 4:8-10).Jesus faced the pull and lure of power and fame just as we must. However Jesus did not live in a day where social networking venues of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, television, internet accessibility, texting and “instant messaging” made the promise of recognition so possible; so quick; so immediate and so instant. Some may surmised that Jesus should have waited until the twenty-first century to make his grand appearance—crashing the party being enjoyed on earth. If he had waited till now, imagine how much more famous Jesus could have been?