As a youngster I used to love playing football, and my heroes were the well-known players of the day. Yet things have changed a bit since then. Though I still think highly of the sport itself, it seems to me that the vast amounts of money sloshing around in the Game internationally, and the English Premier League in particular... well, for me this borders on the obscene. Of course, with 'winning' said to be 'everything' these days, I reckon 'The Beautiful Game' isn't quite so beautiful as it's been in times past.
EXALTED IN THIS WORLD
For me one of the least 'beautiful' features of the game today is a trend that has emerged and gained momentum in recent years. It's when a player scores a goal he (or no doubt she nowadays) will turn their back to the crowd and point to the name printed across their shoulders... which of course is their own! And then in the post match interview they'll tell their adoring fan base, along with the rest of Joe public, just how proud they are of their achievements that day. But little do they know that whilst they might be impressing their supporters they're actually having the opposite effect upon the God who made them. They don't realise that the One who gave them their footballing ability in the first place says..
'I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech.'
On the other hand, when I see this kind of thing I think of Isaac Hann as I'm sure it would have been the very last thing he would have done were he to have been a Premier League footballer today. 'But who is Isaac Hann?', I hear you say. Well, he was a little-known pastor of an English church of whom I read many years ago. And by today's standards there was nothing very remarkable about him. In fact, he would probably have been a humble pastor of whom it would have been said that his ministry didn't really make much of an impact. You see, when he died his church numbered only 26 ladies and 7 men.
I seriously doubt if he would ever have been invited to take part in a Keswick Convention. He wouldn't have spoken at pastors' conferences, and certainly would never have written articles on church growth! He hasn't been remembered for any particularly memorable quotes and would never have emerged as one of the cyber-space preachers who have become so popular amongst Christians in this era of mass media communication.
EXALTED IN HEAVEN
Though Isaac Hann was not well-known in this world throughout his ministry, I have absolutely no doubt that he was certainly well-known in heaven. But why do I say this? Well, let me share with you what happened when at the age of 88 he died. His faithful parishioners placed a plaque on the wall of their meeting house, which remains to this day. And although the language may sound rather quaint, its meaning is clear. It reads in part...
'Few ministers so humble were, yet few so admired:
Ripened for heaven by grace divine, like autumn fruit he fell;
Reader think not to live so long, but seek to live as well.'
This man clearly took on board the Lord's command to all who would be His followers...
'Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility
consider others better than yourselves.'
Yes, we may never become well-known within our world or have a plaque attached to the wall of our house, but to follow in the footsteps of Isaac Hann, well surely this should be the aspiration of us all. Though it may seem contradictory, the way up is the way down!