Celebrity culture seems to follow us like the paparazzi follow the celebs themselves. The obsession with beautiful and wealthy strangers is odd, but we rarely think about it because it’s ubiquitous. The celebrity culture is waiting for you at every check-out aisle. It stalks you at bus shelters, follows you on Twitter, shows up (inexplicably) on the evening news, endorses your breakfast cereal. Everywhere you look there’s a celebrity celebration happening.
. . . Even in the church? Yep. What can you call Joyce Meyer or Tony Evans or John Piper but Christian celebrities? (Any books that sell more copies with the author pictured on the cover are written by celebrities!)
. . . Is there a celebrity culture even in the Adventist church? HAHAHAhahahaaahaaaa! If you’ve been an Adventist more than a minute then you know the answer to that question is “Undoubtedly.” You could probably even name a few: CD Brooks, Mark Finley, Alejandro Bullon, Doug Batchelor.
There’s something in human nature that likes to make celebrities. You hear a series of great sermons by a speaker you really connect with and you want to hear more; when a lot of people have that same experience, the next thing you know you’ve got a preaching celebrity.
I’ve been a Christian long enough to have heard hundreds––even thousands––of sermons, and let’s be real: not all sermons are created equal, not all preachers are equally eloquent, not all pastors are equally likable. And our own individual experiences and personalities do influence what we connect with and who has power to influence us. But how quick we are to make it into a competition––(reality show idea: THE REAL PREACHERS OF ADVENTISM!)––and that’s where the evil enters.
When Paul wrote the Corinthian Christians, his heart bore the heaviness of worry. “I’ve heard you’re fighting,” he says (1 Cor 1:11). “What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another says ‘I follow Apollos’; another person says ‘I follow Peter’; and yet another person says ‘I follow Christ.'” They were getting in arguments and pitting the ministry of one Christian leader against another. Can you believe it? I can. Because it sounds pretty familiar! I see this happen far too often in our family arguments about worship music or women’s ordination or [pick your issue].
Paul points out that this is stupid. “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Christ?” (1 Cor 1:13) The reality of the cross shows this divisive celebrity culture as the vapid idiocy it really is. True wisdom and true power are seen in the mighty God on the cross, so that those who boast can only boast in the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 1:18-31), not in Paul or Apollos or Peter or Doug or Dwight or Carlton…
Using Christian leaders as arrows in our religious arguments, aggrandizing one preacher or one ministry over against another—these are indications that we haven’t let the reality of the cross go deep deep deep within us to shape our thinking. Whether it’s Rob Bell or Randy Roberts, David Asscherick or Sam Leonor, the One project or GYC: stop boasting in these people and these things. It’s stupid! Was Randy Roberts crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of David Asscherick? Brothers and sisters, this is wicked foolishness. We have to stop.
The greatness of our crucified Savior overshadows the charisma of any of His servants. “Therefore, as it is written: Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord!” (1 Cor 1:31)[/box_holder]