Of the Danger of Christian Celebrity

Of the Danger of Christian Celebrity

The outside celebrity, the bigtime speaker, the passion-stirring author is not your pastor. These teachers can be a gift from God, and I do not want to have you ignore them. But you must realize that these folks do not know you and cannot care for your soul. You are not their responsibility before God. 

When were you last star-struck? Perhaps you were in a place where a celebrity showed up. Perhaps you stood on a plot of ground where an important historical figure once stood. Perhaps you met one of your heroes.

I’ve had a few star-struck moments. Once, I had the privilege of meeting the greatest St. Louis Cardinal of all time, Stan Musial. Once, I held in my hands a piece of history, a Tyndale New Testament that was printed around 1526; so, yes, I was star-struck by a book. As a child I was star-struck when I met “Leaping:” Lanny Poffo, brother to the “Macho Man” Randy Savage—If that one does not impress you, I truly do not know what will.

People, places, and even objects can leave us wide-eyed and giddy. And, in general, I do not think that’s all bad. But I wonder if we realize that there is a danger when it happens to us in the church. Have you ever thought of the danger of Christian celebrity?

Just as I was star-struck when Stan “the Man” signed a ball for me, or when Brett “the Hit Man” Heart gave me a high 5—OK, now I’m just name-dropping—I have also found myself feeling the wonder of celebrity in Christian conferences or events. I know what it is like to feel a rush when hearing someone speak who I know wrote one of my favorite books or whose sermons I have only heard on podcasts. And I wonder just how good or bad such a thing is.

On the one hand, God is clear in his holy word that we are to rightly, in the church, honor faithful servants of God.

So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.
Philippians 2:29–30

When Paul wrote to the Philippians about Epaphroditus, the apostle commended the man’s faithfulness and self-sacrifice. Paul wanted the Philippian Christians to honor Epaphroditus and others like him who were willing to give their lives to the service of the Lord. So, there is most certainly a rightness to us honoring faithful ministers, authors, speakers, and missionaries through whose ministries the Lord has blessed our souls and the church at large. There is a rightness to a local church loving a faithful pastor, a long-serving deacon, or a godly woman who has served the church with a true heart and self-sacrificial zeal.

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