Almost Famous

Read: John 7

Soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” (John 7:2-4, NLT)

“Thou shalt become famous” is not one of the Ten Commandments.  “Blessed are the spiritual celebrities, for they shall draw much attention” was not one of the Beatitudes Jesus laid down in the Sermon on the Mount. “Feed my sheep…so it can grow into a mega-ministry” was not the charge Jesus gave his disciples.

Yet the all-consuming desire for fame and the gravitational pull of fame’s first more pushy cousin, celebrity, is stronger today among Christian leaders than ever before.  Jesus’ brothers would have made a great PR team, but they don’t hold a candle to today’s image conscious ministries. All you have to do is turn on Christian television, tune in to Christian radio, cruise into a Christian bookstore, or surf just about anything Christian on the World-Wide Web and you will be immediately impressed with the swelling ranks of those who have attained Christian rock star status.

In this day and age, to make it to the “bigs”, all you’ve got to do is sell a book, have your own show—or get on one, be the spiritual authority all the media quotes when there is breaking news, have your own blog—replete with adoring readers (yikes!)—and do whatever you can to get your name, and your mug, out there where folks can discover just what a gift you are to humankind.

That doesn’t sound too much like Jesus, does it? He resisted any and every attempt to become famous, catapult to power, get rich and build a crowd of raving fans.  In fact, he did just about everything you shouldn’t do to build a successful ministry!  He avoided attention—if it was for the wrong motives. He said very hard things to would-be followers. He insulted the religious movers and shakers. He hung out with the wrong people. He championed causes no one on their way to the top would touch with a ten-foot pole. He grew his band of followers down to eleven guys who were mostly religious rejects.  Then, don’t forget, he got himself killed—crucified as a common criminal.  Oh—I almost forgothe also changed the world!

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a new crop of spiritual leaders who didn’t give a fig about fame and celebrity dominate the Christian scene today?  Well, turn off your TV—and the radio.  Forget about the cover of the latest edition of “Jesus Weekly” and quit reading all those pastor-blogs (except for one).  Get in your car and take a drive out to a small town some Sunday, walk into a little country church and you are likely to find a simple shepherd who isn’t very famous—and won’t ever be—except with God.  He, or she, simply loves God, and the flock—and one day, when the dust settles and we all stand before God, that faithful pastor will receive a standing ovation from the Great Cloud of Witnesses.

They never sought fame—they only wanted to make Jesus famous!

Fame is a bee.
It has a song—
It has a sting—
Ah, too, it has a wing.
~Emily Dickinson

What If God Took Over?

Memorize this Mark 10:45,

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


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