Muhammad Ali passed away a few days ago. Though he was an iconic boxer, even tagged The Greatest, he is remembered for something more—his fight against racism and social inequality. He stated more than once that his fame and boxing career were for fighting for the freedom and equality of all races, and not for his personal benefit.
Pause for a moment. Let’s sidestep a bit and collect a verse from Scripture:
“I will make you into a great nation and I bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on the earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3 (NIV)
These were God’s words to Abraham (while his name was still Abram) when God called him out of his native land, Ur, and father’s house, to go to the new land that God would show him.
Note the highlighted words: “I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing…and all the peoples on the earth will be blessed through you.”
What can you take from this?
Lots, perhaps. But let’s emphasize one theme today:
“When God blesses a person, one of the reasons is so that other people will be blessed through that person.”
Privilege is never without responsibility. God made Abraham great, and people all over the world still benefit from that greatness. Consider the fact that the nation, Israel—the descendants of Abraham—were the first to receive God’s Scripture. Today, many democratic nations (and the United Nations) trace the root and origin of their laws and constitution (which fight for and uphold human rights) to the Bible. This is just one of many blessings to the nations!
Unfortunately today, great names (fame) and blessings are more about elevating self than serving others. People are being taught (especially on reality TV) that it’s okay to be conceited. And the reasons used to justify this philosophy are outright ridiculous! Sadly, folks buy into this way of life so they can become more like the stars, even being offended and attacking those who question the sanity behind this reasoning, forgetting that love and kindness are the reason the world still “goes around” today. Take out the goodness birthed from love and kindness throughout time, and the world would be indescribably unbearable.
Like Abraham, Muhammad Ali understood the relevance and importance of a great name—to bless people across the globe with the platform that his fame gave him. For Muhammad Ali, it was to be a voice for the voiceless and to stand up against injustice.
When, because of fame, people love, trust and pay attention to you, you just might bring about a desired change if you’re willing to take the necessary steps. At first, it may seem impossible, like nothing is happening. Give it time, and you might discover you’ve brought about a simple amendment or an astounding revolution! It wasn’t so long ago that famous singer, Taylor Swift, managed to sway the mind of Apple by a simple letter, which made life easier for a lot of people in the music industry.
There may be dire moments that will test your faith, and put you in a position where you might have to stand alone to defend what you claim you believe and are fighting for. What you need in times like this are patience, perseverance and resilience (simple, but not easy, I know).
Whether you’re famous across the globe or just on a street, if you find yourself in a position of privilege of any sort, remember to bless people. Bring about the needed change within your territory that you’re able to, and don’t relent in being kind to others, because like Muhammad Ali (and Abraham), people will rather choose to remember you for what you did with your fame, than the talent that led you into it.