Daily Riches: The Temptation to be Relevant, The Need to Be Respected (Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning)

“The first temptation with which the devil accosted Jesus was that of turning stones into loaves of bread. This is the temptation to be relevant, to do something that is needed and can be appreciated by people – to make productivity the basis of our ministry. How often have we heard these words: ‘What is the value of talking about God to hungry people? What is the use of proclaiming the Good News to people who lack food, shelter, or clothing? What is needed are people who can offer real help and support. Doctors can heal, lawyers can defend, bankers can finance, social workers can restructure. But what can you do? What do you have to offer?’ This is the tempter speaking! This temptation touches us at the center of our identity. In a variety of ways we are made to believe that we are what we produce. This leads to a preoccupation with products, visible results, tangible goods, and progress. The temptation to be relevant is difficult to shake since it is usually not considered a temptation, but a call. We make ourselves believe that we are called to be productive, successful, and efficient people whose words and actions show that working for God’s Reign is at least as dignified an occupation as working for General Electric, Mobil Oil, or the government. But this is giving in to the temptation to be relevant and respectable in the eyes of the world.” Henri Nouwen

“The world will respect us if we court it, it will respect us even more if we reject it in disdain and anger, but it will hate us if we simply take no notice of it or it’s priorities or what it thinks of us. In John’s gospel the Jews are said to be incapable of believing because ‘they receive glory from one another.’ There is a radical incompatibility between human respect and faith in Jesus Christ.” Brennan Manning

“… you accept glory from one another
but do not seek the glory
that comes from the only God”
John 5:44

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Are you “hooked” on others’ approval? What does that mean?
  • In Jesus’ day, it was the religious community “receiving glory from one another.” Pleasing the world is probably not our gravest danger.
  • Are you prepared for the day when you seem unproductive?

Abba, may your approval be all I need.

For More: The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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