Our culture reveres celebrities. In the very least we greatly admire their words, the products they buy (which we associate with their identities), and are frequently followers of them in the virtual world.
And the world’s culture is carrying over into the Church. We often put pastors, evangelists and broadcasters on pedestals and in so doing, forget that they are lifting up Christ Jesus. We should pause and rethink this, especially when we come to believe in them personally or their ministries, ahead of God.
As megachurches grow and have satellite congregations, and as we attend Christian concerts and read Christian authors, let us not forsake our first love: God.
We are called to live for Christ. We are called to point to Jesus ahead of our own pastors, ideas, opinions, and identities. We are also asked to surrender our vanity, pride, and sense of self-worth and see our own personal glory and righteousness as “filthy rags” compared to a Holy God.
Our teachers’ words are meaningful to us and help us grow our faith, but our teachers themselves are just tributaries in a mighty river of God at work on earth.
If we are selective in what we listen to, we may miss what the bigger picture is of seeking God's vision. By this I mean that groups like the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and media like Christianweek matter because they show divergent views and a bigger picture of the Church. Sometimes we mainly have time for just our favourite author or home church, but we should also make sure we take the time to find out what Christians whose views differ from ours are doing.
Our stars of the faith are excellent examples and helpful voices but drawing pleasure from them because we agree with them should not replace the joy of the Lord and eliminate divine revelation or a probing heart that questions ourselves and personal convictions because are faith has to be active to be alive--we aren't called to just be passive. God may have done the work of salvation for us but we are asked to act on it in the world.
It’s a problem when we seek worship experiences to fill time or amuse ourselves, instead of seeking to worship God with an undivided heart and not just to be aroused by passion or fervor for what we agree with. The problem is not with the messenger, it’s a problem with what can happen to the viewer or listener’s heart, attitude, and ultimately soul.
We need to be consciously aware when we start to think that another human being’s opinion is God’s voice and matters more than opening the Bible and praying about it. God can speak through others to admonish or encourage, edify or instruct, but God does not want us to look for direction strictly from one celebrity personality or even from a small circle, but from Himself, the Holy Spirit, and the whole body of the Church.
Next time you catch yourself tuning into what your pastor or a star of the faith is saying, remember Who you are tuning into their words for: God. This will guard your heart against disappointment if they make a mistake or if you feel they aren’t exactly right about something.
The problems of the cult of celebrities are nothing new. The Apostle Paul faced them when dealing with the church in Corinth in biblical times. He had to remind them that who did the baptizing was not what mattered. He also showed that we shouldn’t measure ourselves in terms of how many we baptize or convert. This reminder, that what matters most is the message and not the messenger, is critical now.
We can rest confidently that we don’t need to worry about the new “stars of the faith” or whether our leadership is perfect, because theirs will not be the only voice through which God reaches into our daily lives, and they won’t be the ones receiving our worship.
We must recognize that our servant leaders are not infallible—God is.
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