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Friday, September 16, 2011

Testimonies of the Rich and Famous

I just read the Christian testimony of another celebrity. There was nothing remarkable about this testimony other than his claim to be a Christian. I wondered why we clamor after famous people's Christian testimonies.

A new Christian is hounded if he is famous. Other Christians gather around that person and look up to him as if the acumen that he possesses in what made him famous will transfer to his faith. I don't think this is healthy for us or these famous people.

We all struggle. Being placed under a microscope doesn't help because extreme scrutiny can produce rebellion. Being followed continually by people reporting your every move is a very difficult way to live. Now imagine, you are not only being followed and reported on but you are also being criticized for everything that you do. Eventually, you have to want an escape. You want to tell people to leave you alone. Christians seem to be the last people to notice that you need your own time to live your own life.

One time I got on an elevator with a couple of very famous people. I didn't know who they were but I should have noticed the strange way they were dressed. They were wearing big sun glasses and overcoats. It wasn't that cold. The person I was with told me who they were after we got off. I was not a fan but knew who they were. I wouldn't have recognized them anyway.

Years ago we lived down the street from the lead guitarist for a famous country-western singer. The neighbor had a daughter who was the same age as my youngest daughter. They become best friends. So, there were times my daughter would go over to this CW singer's house and even traveled with him on his bus when he had reasonably local gigs. (Less than 200 miles away. My daughter was six or seven at the time. So, what kind of parent let's his daughter travel like this?)

She came back from one of these trips and told us that she didn't want to be like him. It was not a reflection of his character. She said, "He never gets to eat." They had gone to a restaurant while on this trip. People continued to interrupt his meal and ask for autographs. He literally had no time to eat.

Is this the price of being famous? I guess so. But can you imagine adding the pressure of being watched as a Christian especially in an industry which isn't known for its Christian values? I do not know if the famous CW star was a Christian. My neighbor was and the CW star's wife was. (I have had long conversations with both and am convinced.) Yet, that too is not the point. The scrutiny applied to the famous' most casual action is almost unbearable.

Personally, I don't like testimonies of famous people simply because they are famous. I don't believe they say anything other than even famous people can be Christians. A testimony should be more than that. It should reflect a life that it totally committed to Christ. These published testimonies should be exceptional because of Who they are committed to rather than who is committed.

Sure, there may be some famous Christians who have amazing testimonies. Their testimonies should be shared but not because they are merely famous. They should be shared because they are amazing. I don't think we are helping famous brothers and sisters in Christ by flaunting their faith just because they are famous. We must realize that many of them will never have spectacular testimonies if we keep hounding them when their testimony is rather thin. They are not "born again" as completely mature Christians. They are babes in Christ in the beginning. We should treat them as such.

We all fit together as the body of Christ. Those who are more famous are not more valuable. They are all a part of bringing the gospel into the world. We all grow together and thus we see God's kingdom invade this earth.

I stop each time I hear that someone famous has trusted in Christ and pray that people will surround them who will help them grow in their faith rather than exploit their fame. I am afraid that too many so called Christians will take advantage of them before they can truly set a path of knowing Jesus. It doesn't take these famous new believers to understand that they are being exploited. Why shouldn't they wonder if all this talk of Jesus is a scam when the people they should be able to trust are taking advantage of them.

Truthfully, I don't know any famous people. I don't know what they are feeling. I just think they would react to their Christian celebrity like I would act.

Colossians 1:3-8 (ESV) 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

1 comment:

Anthony Chia said...

I don't know any famous people either, although I may know ABOUT a few of them, and of course I do NOT generally take keen interest in knowing ABOUT famous people. Actually, in life, many things are permissible, but many things are also NOT beneficial or constructive or edifying.

The Apostle Paul went even further; well, he used the word, "Everything". But of course, he referenced it to himself, in essence (in both 1 Cor 6:12 and 1 Cor 10:23), he said, "All things are lawful TO (UNTO) ME..." At times, we really must understand that Paul spoke of Himself as one totally given unto the Lord, and for such a person, he has complete liberty in Christ Jesus, yet it must also be understood that although such has complete liberty, such does NOT embrace everything; The everything and "all things" must be understood in perspective, in the lenses of God, if we claim we are totally given to God. Is God NOT sovereign? Can God do anything and everything since He is sovereign? Sure, but does He do everything and anything? No, for example, God does NOT lie. And God does NOT sin. God is "internally governed" by His holiness. Because, the HOLY Spirit indwelled a believer, this "internal governance" is present in a believer; whether or NOT a believer is governed by it, depends on his given-ness to the dictates of the Holy Spirit in him.

Generally, men do all sorts of things, but the rich and famous, because of the associated power, they are prone to a greater measure of those things under the non-beneficial or non-constructive or non-edifying category. One of the key modus operandi of Satan is to tempt with power and riches. It is almost a truth to say that Satan does NOT change: He tempted Jesus that way (read Matt 4), and he continues to attempt men in that way. The arena of the rich, famous and powerful is the arena Satan is constantly squeezing out his deceptive juices into. Can you and I be in the arena? Sure, but it is also the colosseum of the Devil. You must know how to arm yourself and fight well to stay victorious, if you want to live in the thick of where Satan operates.

Rather, the same Apostle Paul’s recommendation is this (1 The 4:11-12): 11And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing (KJV). 11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody (NIV).

The reason I quoted the KJ version is to underscore that the intention of Paul was NOT that we mind our own business (MYOB) wholesale; but it is clear that, to lead a quiet life is exhorted, and is perhaps, the best fit for many of us. Of course, there are those who found themselves already in the arena when they come to the Lord. It will NOT be easy for them, and they must grow in their new found faith quickly enough, in their adverse environment or they may end up like seedlings on non-conducive soil conditions. Help them, don’t stumble them.