Thursday, September 01, 2011

Christian Celebrity Culture


Something has been on my mind a lot of late as I observe “Christian culture” at large, and going back even into the 1980s when we had the televangelist scandals. It's about time that I posted something, so here goes.

I really believe we have too much of a celebrity culture in the church. I say that as someone who has been in the public eye for a long time, and as someone who’s had the chance to be around people who are considered really, really “high profile.” My late stepfather told me of an incident when he was out in California working as a custodian at a popular ministry often featured on TBN — and this particular ministry is now defunct after the leader was caught up in a scandal. My stepfather personally witnessed high profile speakers coming in, and after events, briefcases with thousands of dollars would be put into the trunks of limousines when the speakers would depart. And many of these guys off camera would be some of the most arrogant people you could imagine.

I would watch the same speakers in public appearances or on television/radio, and they would typically be on the receiving end of effusive praise. “Oh, you’re such a gift from the Lord. Oh, what a powerful message from a powerful man of God. Oh, you’re so talented and gifted. Oh, you’ve changed my life . . . “ and so on. Once in a great while, someone might actually give a little credit to the Lord, for which He could have said, “Thanks for the crumbs from your table, Mrs. Dives.”

I’ve seen the same thing myself over the years up close and personal, and not just on media. I’ve seen it in churches with pastors and speakers/teachers. It really gets nauseating after a while, and all the more so because it is such a trap to the human ego. People love being stroked and praised. At first, it starts out with no doubt genuine pleasure that someone has been blessed through their ministry. But after a while, the praise and hero worship becomes like an addictive drug. And the One being robbed of His glory is God. In the end, He ends up having to kick the slats out from under the one doing the robbing, because He will not give His glory to another.

This is a serious problem to which we all can be susceptible, even if we are not in a high profile role. So much of this could be solved and resolved if we would just hold our praise and give it to Whom it really belongs. If you’ve ever been blessed by anything I’ve done, taught, written or said, wonderful. Praise God. And I do mean — PRAISE GOD. Not me. When someone begins gushing over me, the first thing I’m tempted to do is to follow the example of Barnabas and Paul in Acts 14 and “tear my robes.” Trust me, that would not be a pretty sight if I actually followed through!

4 comments:

Just Jules said...

"If you’ve ever been blessed by anything I’ve done, taught, written or said, wonderful. Praise God. And I do mean — PRAISE GOD. Not me."

Slam-dunk, Joel.

crownring said...

Hi Sola,

It is amazing and vexing to me how so many dear souls work and work for the Lord and for the sake of His Church and not even get a "Thank You" and these phony celebs get so much glory, not to mention money. But such is the way of the world, the world that hates God and those who are not of the world.

It is such times when I can confronted with such hipocrisy, that the words of "the teacher" come to mind............

From Ecclesiastes 2: NIV

Pleasures Are Meaningless
1 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem[a] as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.

Dungy said...

Sola,

Modesty and Humility are fine virtues, but I'm curious. You seem to discourage the notion that your accomplishments belong to you, but instead believe that they are owed to, and owned by, God. Is that fair?

If so, what of your failings? Do you feel that you own them, or they the caused by a spiritual influence like the devil?

Solameanie said...

Dungy,

Scripture makes it pretty clear that all of our accomplishments would not be possible if the original gifting to achieve those accomplishments had not come from God. As to my failings, those are all my own. I'm not a "devil made me do it" type of believer. Although I do believe Satan can certainly cause trouble and tempt, he cannot force believers to sin in their actions.