This week I reached the ripe age of 33. It was a fine birthday, spent with family and friends and Facebook well-wishers. I even got to talk through my upcoming book, Great White Throne, with a couple writer friends.
Amidst these festivities, a bigger question has been on my mind. Tradition says a man named Jesus lived to the same age. In only three years of ministry, he left quite a mark on the world. So I figure it’s time to see how I’m measuring up to the world’s most famous person.
Minor And, Mostly, Major Differences
Jesus wrote a few scribbles in the sand. No one even knows what it said. Apparently that’s all, though you could say he inspired a fair amount of writing. Most of it, really.
I wrote five books. He inspired me.
Jesus taught thousands. They were willing to skip a meal and travel far from home just to hear him speak. His parables changed the world.
I taught a few seminars. Not thousands, not even hundreds. I’m pretty sure no one skipped a meal for me. I’m still working on my parables.
Jesus’s dusty sandals tromped over miles and miles of rugged roads and hills. He sailed in a few boats. He also walked on water. But he didn’t fly anywhere. All the walking ended up in his country’s capital.
I flew to lots of cities and countries. I drove thousands of miles. My dress shoes walked many blocks in my country’s capital. But now I’m not traveling so much. That’s because...
4. Family and Friends
Jesus didn’t marry or have kids. He made at least twelve good friends. They followed him around everywhere. A few went on to die for him.
I’m married. We have three kids, all born in the last five years (story of the latest here). I also made some good friends. But not twelve, or even one, who followed me around everywhere. Well, my kids kind of follow me. I’ll count them, plus my wife. I would die for them.
Jesus talked to God. He claimed to be the son of God. He performed miracles.
I’m not God. No miracles. But I believe what Jesus claimed.
Jesus died for who he was. Then he defeated death.
I’m still alive. I may have a long way to go, or maybe not. I’ve been eating my vegetables, but I think death will eventually get me. Temporarily.
Outsized Impact and the Finish
It’s astounding to me that a guy who just walked around teaching for about three years, without writing anything, changed the arc of history. No one has pulled it off since. No one will.
Still, like Jesus, I hoped to make a difference in the world by age 33. I worked hard, as Jesus did in his way. When I told a wise friend about this, he laughed. “Don’t work yourself too hard,” he said. “No matter what you do, you’ll never make it.”
He was right, of course. Age 33 is no finish line. But it does mark my transition away from any goal of “changing the world.” I’m focusing instead on the daily process, while ignoring the outcome, because Jesus already took care of that.
Let’s make our birthdays count – J.B.