Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, September 24, 2016 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

I was reminded recently that the pursuit, and even the desire to leave a legacy, is vanity. Now, I am sure that someone will take issue with that and argue with me that there are ways to leave a noble legacy of doing good, and I would agree. The issue is that our desire for and to leave a legacy is about US, no matter who or what we leave that legacy for.

The futility of 'legacy' is that it only lasts as long as the memories of people who knew us. And the farther from us each person is, the more unclear or even warped the legacy becomes. Milton S. Hershey is a great example. He started the Hershey Chocolate Company, from which we have the Hershey Bar, Hershey Kisses, and a host of other candies. His legacy is still in effect, particularly the Hershey Trust, which benefits from product sales, and is a benefit to orphans, single parents, and low income/special situation students. Eligible students are able to go to school, live on campus, and have all their basic needs provided for them through the trust, so they can focus on their education. Many are able to pursue their dreams and become good citizens and contributors to society when they graduate. But are the company, the trust, and the school still making decisions the way Milton would have?

It's safe to say they are not, because they are addressing questions and issues he never had to, and they are taking the business in directions he may never had intended to. Legacy only lasts as long as it is convenient and relevant and then it is cast aside; out of sight, out of mind.

In Judges 8:29-35, the same thing happens to Gideon. As soon as he dies, people go back to worshipping the false god of fertility, Baal. The writer of Judges indicates this is Baal-Berith, which means 'Baal of covenant.' Jewish historians believe this is clearly the same Baal nicknamed ‘lord of the flies,’ but the word 'berith' or 'covenant' may point to the practice of carrying around a small idol and pulling it out and kissing it throughout the day. Think of it in terms of a lucky rabbit's foot kind of idol. As soon as Gideon was in the ground, there began this practice of carrying lucky charms around, superstitiously holding them and kissing them.

What lasting impact had Gideon had? What was his legacy? It’s almost like this passage screams, "Who cares!"

It wasn't about Gideon or his legacy; it was about Gideon being faithful, helping Israel follow God and get free from the oppression and corruption of Midian. That mission was accomplished, and the land enjoyed 40 years of peace because of it.

  This passage celebrates Gideon's faithfulness, and then like an 'Easter egg' in a movie plot it also shows us there is already a sequel story in the works. Even though Gideon had freed Israel from Midian, Israel had not let go of the superstitions they learned. As quickly as a young child might do what they shouldn’t when a parent turns around, Israel returns to Baal worship when Gideon is no longer there as God's leader.

For me this passage begs the question, where are the leaders Gideon trained up during his time? Did he train anyone up? Who was there to carry on the faithful example of following God after Gideon died?

See, legacy alone has little lasting influence. It is the people who are raised up and trained that carry on the mission beyond our individual time on earth. What I accomplish in my time is for my time, and my part will end when I am done. But who is being unleashed to live their potential and be committed to God's course for them? Who is carrying on the next part of God's mission after we are gone?

Do we recognize that this is NOT just a leadership issue? It's a faith issue for every single person, because each of us can contribute to God's purposes or distract from them by worshipping lesser things. And we worship what gets the most of our attention.

So, I share all that to say, don't be discouraged by whether people carry on your example or not. Don't be the kind of person who tries to get away with things because some authority figure isn't looking. And stop with the superstitious stuff about appeasing spirits or God, or anyone - just stop, because superstition is a waste of time.

Get your eyes off of your own legacy and just do what God has called you to do. Equip and empower those around you to live out their calling and mission. Focus on letting God be seen through you, and trust God to lead others for their part of the journey.

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