You Need Only Bow Down

The unease I generally feel about Christian celebrity culture is the same sort of anxiety I experience when forced to watch ‘The Bachelor’ or any similar type of reality TV show.

Yes, of course I realize all the participants are consenting adults who eagerly sought out this experience. So what’s it to me? Why am I cringing? Why can’t I enjoy the entertaining hoopla like everyone else seems to do? Why am I so weird?

Almost everything about the Christian celebrity culture and reality TV utterly dismays me. Honestly, a Christian ‘celebrity’ is not anything I’d ever encourage my children to try and become. Why? Because I think it’s a trap.

“Only bow down, and all this will be yours…”

It’s worth a reminder that you do not become a Christian celebrity because God likes you and you represent his brand especially well. In fact, you become a Christian celebrity because people like you and your brand.

You do not become a Christian celebrity because God has approved your well-crafted message and is rewarding it with a growing platform or influence. You become a Christian celebrity because people like the sound of your message. They like to feel special; influential; and so they will identify with the platform that gives them both.

“Only bow down, and all this will be yours…”

You do not become a Christian celebrity because God says, “Finally! Now here is someone who really gets what I’ve been trying to tell the world in this modern age. She nailed it! I’m going to bless her ministry and give her so much favor with all the people.”

Again, I think no.

You become a Christian celebrity because the people of your modern age say, “Finally! Here is someone who is able to articulate in a compelling way something that is important to me. Let me repay the favor by buying her book or going to her conference. I want to be counted as one of her tribe.”

“Only bow down, and all this will be yours…”

In fact, if you are Christian, and also a celebrity, it is likely that you are being tested. Will your soul survive the temptation of getting (and keeping) the world’s attention? Will you be able to withstand the test of thinking that God is fortunate you are such a winsome witness for his kingdom? What will you do when the crowd gets bored and moves along?

At the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, when Satan offered him the worship and adulation of the whole world, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'” (Matt 4)

Three years after that encounter in the wilderness, Jesus would die a shameful death in a manner reserved only for common criminals, slaves, and losers. His features were so marred that he was not recognizable. Any celebrity culture that had briefly surrounded him while he preached, healed, and turned water into wine was long gone.

At the pinnacle of his ministry – his most influential – Jesus’s platform was to hang, naked and nailed to a cross, on the seedy side of town. The crowd that had lauded him as their hero turned on him as their anathema. The friends that had dedicated themselves to his promising messianic ministry disappeared. Even those crucified with Christ also heaped insults on him (Mark 15).

And yet, this bleak and cringe-worthy platform is the way God said to his world, “Lift up your eyes and look at my beloved son. See him broken for you. Look at his life willingly poured out as a ransom for you. On him (even here in this place of awful desolation) is where my eternal favor rests.”

The fickle world is always hunting for a Messiah that doesn’t require obscurity, suffering, and all-in obedience. I’m a part of that world, too, simultaneously craving attention and desperately avoiding suffering and discomfort. I am tempted every day to bow down so that all of it can be mine, mine, mine.

But as Holy Week approaches and we watch Jesus move towards his passion, would that I remember God’s favor is not a reward for representing him winsomely or influentially in front of the adoring crowds in his kingdom.

But God’s favor rests on those who come and whisper at the foot of the lonely and crude cross, “I believe, Lord Jesus, help my unbelief.”

Peace to you and yours on your way,

Kim

(“Black Cross With Stars And Blue” by Georgia OKeefe.)

8 responses to You Need Only Bow Down

  1. Ramona says:

    I completely agree, but people are going to go ballistic over this. Hang in there!

  2. Christie Wayne says:

    The popularity snare..
    You really said it well ~

  3. Delia Hunt says:

    Excellent, Kim Your vivid portrayal of the Passion of our LORD persuades us to bow the knee of our hearts. I shall not want ❤️ Delia Sent from my iPhone

    >

  4. Trisha says:

    A word fitly spoken, reached my heart.

  5. Melissa Foster says:

    All I can say is Wow

    And say thank you Jesus for your gift of discernment

    May you and yours enjoy a Happy Easter! Hallelujah He is Risen!

    M

    >

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