Every day before and after elementary school I watched reruns of “Saved By The Bell”. Sure, the show was funny. But really I was studying Zack Morris.
Zack Morris was the epitome of cool. The slicked back bleached blonde hair. The giant cell phone. The swagger.
(Also he could stop time. That was kind of weird. But totally awesome.)
I fantasized about being as popular as Zack Morris. I worked every morning to style my hair like his. I tried to talk like him. I prayed that girls would fawn over me like they did for him, and that one day I would find my Kelly Kapowski.
For all the “Saved By The Bell” studying I did, I never really became popular. I had many friends in school, but I never ascended up the popularity ladder like I dreamed about.
In my head being popular with the right people would solve everything. Being cool would just make life better.
I was wrong about this, but I don’t think being popular is bad. However, something I read the other day made me rethink my values of popularity.
In the book of Luke, Jesus is described as being “popular among notorious sinners – tax-collectors and social outcasts.” (Luke 15:1)
I love this description of Jesus. He was not popular amongst the popular. He was not beloved by the religious or the rich. He got along with the sinners and not the saints.
Jesus was a man of the people. He found popularity amongst the outcasts and dirges of society.
What this says about Jesus is that He did not look past these people. He did not talk down to them. He did not consider himself above them.
In Jesus’s actions we see the shortcut to true popularity.
Jesus loved these people. He surrounded himself with sinners day after day and night after night. The people Jesus ate with, drank with, stayed up all night with are the people He was supposedly condemning.
While Jesus did not support the lifestyles of these “notorious sinners”, He did not spend His time preaching against them. Instead he simply spent his time with them.
This is true ministry. This is true love.
If you want to be popular, the best way to do it is to rethink the type of people you want to be popular with.
Instead of worrying about being more like Zack Morris, consider how you can follow Jesus’s shortcut to popularity.
Figure out where the outcasts and “notorious sinners” are around you. Instead of looking down on them, spend time with them.
Genuinely love the unpopular, and you’ll find yourself beloved by them. Do all this not for your own glory and ego, but to share the same love Jesus offers to all of us sinners.
How can you follow Jesus’s shortcut to popularity? Who are the “notorious sinners” you could be trying to become popular with?