Archive for March, 2008
In my previous post, I noted the negative and sinful feelings that would arise from my “flesh” when dealing with Celebrity Christianity. In this post, I am not too sure if what I feel is morally sinful (you can help me figure it out).
As mentioned in my previous post, one of the things that really gets to me with Celebrity Christianity (in the West) is how we think that what we see is reality- the recognition someone gets is also the same recognition God gives to that person. In other words, if we as the Western Church think that a certain pastor/model/ministry is amazing, God thinks the same.
I want to nuance my concern in this post to the idea that many times, when we do this, we also give in to the fatal error that what is true of what we see here is true for the Church worldwide. In other words, when a Western pastor has a big ministry, publishes books, has iTune sermons, and gets the Western Church’s attention, we think to ourselves- “Wow, this is what good, proper, effective, and powerful Christianity looks like! ” Now, we don’t actually verbalize the next step because of our sensitivity to ideas of colonialism and imperialism, but my impression is that what we end up thinking from there, in the subtlest of ways, is that everyone, in every country, should have what this ministry has in some way, shape, or fashion. I may be wrong (and simply projecting my sinful flesh on others- I apologize), but this is what I feel.
I was reminded of this personally a few weeks ago. A friend of mine said that a seminary in Indonesia was thinking about inviting the two of us to go and teach there for a week. Exciting stuff, especially for a person who loves to travel (and who also struggles with ungodly recognition!). But as I thought about this, it dawned on me how utterly foolish the situation was.
According to my friend, this seminary was one in which every student had to plant a church before they could graduate. If you think about it, this is simply amazing, not because they have to plant a church, but because of the fact that they have to plant a church in Indonesia– a country that is predominantly Muslim, a country Christians are persecuted and die because of their faith, a country that is so not like the West (for info, see here).
And if you think about it, the idea of my friend and I being able to offer something to them is pretty foolish. I mean, sure we may have some insight into some organizational skills for church planting. But let’s get serious- who’s living the call of Christ in more real ways? Who’s setting an example? Who’s gonna have the bigger rewards in heaven? Who’s more equipped to teach about planting churches in our global world? I really don’t think it’s me or my friend.
So I’ve been absent for a bit on this blog. There are a number of reasons for that, many of which we don’t need to get into here. But one of the factors that have prevented me from posting has been my personal struggle with what I am calling “Celebrity Christianity”- a Christian faith that gets the accolades of other people. It comes about in a number of different ways, but more often than not it follows a pattern like this: I see a peer- a pastor or Christian leader of some sort- get the limelight of the Western church world, and feelings of lust (for that sort of limelight) and judgmentalism ensue. Now, it doesn’t happen all the time, thank Jesus. But it happens enough where I am disgusted with myself, and I cannot properly put myself before the public without wanting the glory only God deserves. (It should be noted that I am in no way criticizing my fellow peers who get these accolades. They are amazing people, and I am glad for who they are and what they do).
It’s a sad thing, though, Celebrity Christianity. Because as I’ve been thinking about it, I think Jesus sees things in a radically different way. I mean, it’s pretty blatant in some of his teachings, for example:
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matt. 6:1-4
God, I don’t want to be duped. Help me remember what reality is.