Every young student knows of Isaac Newton’s famed encounter with a falling apple. Newton discovered and introduced the laws of gravity in the 1600s, which revolutionized astronomical studies. But few know that if it weren’t for Edmund Halley, the world might never have learned from Newton.
It was Halley who challenged Newton to think through his original notions. Halley corrected Newton’s mathematical errors and prepared geometrical figures to support his discoveries. Halley coaxed the hesitant Newton to write his great work, Mathematical Principals of Natural Philosophy. Halley edited and supervised the publication, and actually financed its printing even though Newton was wealthier and easily could have afforded the printing costs. Historians call it one of the most selfless examples in the annals of science.
Newton began almost immediately to reap the rewards of prominence; Halley received little credit. He did use the principles to predict the orbit and return of the comet that would later bear his name, but only after his death did he received any acclaim. And because the comet only returns every seventy-six years, the notice is rather infrequent. Halley remained a devoted scientist who didn’t care who received the credit as long as the cause was being advanced.
Others have played Halley’s role. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.” Barnabas was content to introduce others to greatness. Many pray to uphold the work of one Christian leader. Such selflessness advances the kingdom.
Jesus’ prominence in our lives is tied to His preeminence in our lives. If He is not obvious in our daily actions and deeds, the world will be oblivious to who He really is. We must learn to fade into the background so that the focus will be on Him.
The “background” is an assault on our pride, our flesh, and our will. It is a call that will challenge everything we put our trust in and is the only way we can walk by faith and walk with Him. Jesus challenged His disciples and all of us, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
We cannot follow and stay in the foreground. A life of sacrifice and surrender is our privilege and place. The world cannot see us and see Jesus for who He really is!