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What does a star on American Idol have in common with some presidential candidates and Nobel Prize winners, the Virginia Tech murderer Seung-Hui Cho, the Columbine killers Klebold and Harris—and you? They desire to be known, recognized, famous. This common desire was summed up well in an ’80s pop hit,
“I’m gonna make it to heaven, light up the sky like a flame!
“I’m gonna live forever, see that you remember my name!”
American Idol stars—okay, you can see their desire for fame, but mass murderers like Cho, Klebold, and Harris? Remember that Cho paused between attacks to film himself and then mail the tape to MSNBC, while Harris and Klebold wanted to set the record for killing the most people. They wanted to be remembered.
The problem, of course, is the cost of fame. As English poet John Wolcott put it, “What rage [desire] for fame attends both great and small! Better be damned than mentioned not at all!”
We were designed to seek food to satisfy our hunger, and we seek fame to satisfy our desire for immortality (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The problem is that no one can be forever famous. As Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius put it, “All is ephemeral [passes away]—fame and the famous as well.”
The only way to satisfy the hunger for fame is to be recognized and accepted by someone greater than ourselves. Since other mortals don’t qualify, the only hope lies in being known by the Eternal Creator, who knows you intimately and accepts His children.
You may “light up the sky like a flame” in this life, but you could remain “unknown” by the all-powerful Creator. Jesus will say to people who never listened to His words, “I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23). Seeking fame in this world is futile if the ultimate result is to be cast into hell. Jesus said, “For what will a man be profited if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
You can choose to be just another shooting star like Klebold, Harris, or Cho. However, the Creator has provided the way for every one of us to know Him personally through His Son, Jesus Christ. John 17:3 states, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (NIV). Now that’s true immortality.