Saturday, February 01, 2014

"Become famous for God"

As I was getting dressed yesterday morning, I turned on the radio and after a few minutes was assaulted by this phrase over and over and over in a brief advertising spot for a talent/search agency. Boy, there's nothing like a good sputter in the morning to get one's blood moving. And since I am still sputtering 24 hours later, I decided to write out exactly why I find this phrase and the whole idea behind it to be wrong-headed, dangerous, and lacking in any deep theological thought.

At this point, you are probably thinking to yourself, "I'm beginning to think that she doesn't like the phrase," aren't you? You are probably also asking yourself if it is really worth getting so worked up over. I am, and it is... especially when a Christian radio station gives the whole idea tacit approval by airing it. Why? Well, it's just plain wrong on two fronts.

The first area where it is dreadfully wrong and possibly even dangerous is the idea that becoming famous is something a Christian should strive for. You know, I"m pretty familiar with the Bible, and at no point can I recall a place where we are encouraged to make a show of ourselves, to blow our own horn, to make ourselves into a bigger deal than we actually are. Isn't that what seeking to become famous is really all about? I find the whole idea antithetical to what we are instructed to do and be as Christians. We are instructed to love our neighbors as ourselves, to take up our cross daily, to do mercy, to act justly, and walk humbly with our God. It is about putting God and others first, not ourselves. After all, love does not boast.

OK, you may be agreeing with me on this point, but dangerous? It might be an example of questionable judgment and rather annoying, but is it really dangerous?

After hearing the spot a couple of times now, it is undoubtedly aimed at a younger crowd. As a nearly 50 year old woman, when I hear a call for models, I don't assume they are talking to me. So here we have a business, self-describing themselves as Christian, who are aiming a commercial message at young people, telling them to seek fame for God. It sounds attractive. It is the rare young person who doesn't think being famous might just be a little cool. Being famous, even if the person starts out as trying to be the 'good Christian' famous person, finds it a difficult road. There are lot of forces at work, and it is a constant battle to remain humble in the midst of it and not start believing the hype about yourself. It is an old story of the young person who starts out being a professing Christian and then after a while, as the fame continues, it is noticed that the young person has become very different from where he or she began. It takes a lot of maturity to navigate those waters, and even mature adults can fall prey to the pride that fame can bring.

If you know the book of Isaiah, then you are aware that to be prideful is to be completely at odds with God. Pride tells us that we have something to do with who we are and what we have achieved. Pride fails to give credit where credit is due and puts us into a place where we slowly elevate ourselves to the level of God.

This leads me to the second problem of this whole idea. It is only our pride that makes us think we can do anything for God. You know, God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. He doesn't need us. He certainly doesn't need us to help Him. If we think we can do things to help God, then our idea of God is just a little too small and we flatter ourselves that we are more powerful than we are. This is illustrated by the fact that God delights in using people whom the world thinks are not important or valuable to further His kingdom. Runaway stutterer? Moses led an entire nation out of captivity. Ninth youngest son of a shepherd? David was the king who united Israel and Judah and whose kingdom was promised to never end. Young peasant girl? Mary was the mother of God. A bunch of fisherman from a provincial backwater? The disciples began the Christian church after the resurrection of Jesus.

Of course, God does use people to further His kingdom, but the idea that we have to make ourselves famous before we can be of use to Him is ridiculous. The best way to further God's kingdom? First make sure you have the relationship right. Who's in charge, you or God? Next, do what He says. Chances are He is not calling you to be famous. More likely, He is telling you to love your neighbor, serve the people in your local church, practice sacrificial, extravagant love on the people around you. This doesn't make such great copy, though, and it certainly doesn't bring in money to a business. It is not glamorous. It can be hard. Sometimes it can even hurt, because as you start to love those around you, you start to hurt with them as well.

And maybe, just maybe, God will decide to make you famous. But notice who is responsible for the action here. He is doing it, you are not doing it for Him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yep, this ad is playing continuously on the Fish in Atlanta. Not sure if that is where you heard it or not. But yes, it is completely obnoxious, totally self serving and 100% inspired by the Devil. Don't get me started on the Fish, but it should be pretty obvious to anyone out there that it is not a Christian radio station.

And don't get me started on their "pay for the person behind you in the drive though" thing. You might as well say to some stranger, "Look, I love Jesus and I am so concerned about your eternal soul, that I am going to pay for your $10 worth of crap. Aren't I a wonderful person? Doesn't it make you want to get born again?"

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