No Idea What to Call This

I don’t look to Gordon Keith for spiritual guidance; to do so would certainly signify the end times. But I do appreciate a good challenge — spiritual, mental, physical — to me, it’s the candy of life.

As a believer, I can’t endorse everything in his recent Op-Ed, but he did touch on something that I feel warrants more discussion.

Keith points to the “Invisible Man” phenomenon of Christianity, identifying the ways believers dress our physically unseen God in clothes that best suit our interests. Clothes that promote our agenda. Clothes that keep us warm and cozy, free from the chilling realities of life.

All this is true, but when it comes to the recent controversy surrounding Dr. Robert Jeffress and Tim Tebow, spectators missed an opportunity to address an increasingly common cloak we drape across the shoulders of God: celebrity worship.

Fifty years ago, if an average-at-best quarterback had accepted (and subsequently declined) an invitation to speak at a large church, it would have scarcely made the local news. But as our culture has become so increasingly voyeuristic and consumed with social icons, stories like these now dominate the headlines for days.

Transition to the “I Am Second” campaign. This noble effort has made my teeth itch from day one. I understand the importance of a powerful testimony. I appreciate a person using their public platform to make the name of Jesus famous, and I suppose if you get your arm bitten off by a shark, and God works through that tragedy, you should share your story. But the average “I Am Second” video is three or four minutes long. Guess how long it takes to read a simple Proverb? Bingo. And too many people have traded the pure truth of the latter for the emotional high of the former.

These celebrities aren’t to blame. We’re the guilty ones when we take our eyes off of the ultimate Victor, and instead wrap ourselves — and our view of God — in the victories, struggles, and lives of man.

Josh Hamilton recently became the poster child for redemption, catapulting him to hero status in the hearts and minds of every God-fearing baseball fan, but, oops – there he was taking liquor shots off a random girl’s stomach in a bar. Carrie Prejean stood up for traditional marriage in a pageant and then, literally overnight, was transformed into the cover girl for God’s model of marriage. Oops — then we all got to see her boobs. Tim Tebow? He’s not Billy Graham. He’s just a kid who throws a football and loves Jesus. Did he make the right decision in breaking his commitment to appear at First Baptist Dallas? I would say he did not.

Billy Graham? Just like Dr. Jeffress, he fails, too.

Where then do we go with this? We feel let down. We feel disappointed. We’re discouraged … but why, when we’re the ones who elevated these people to a height from which they were destined to fall — and from which we’d surely fall, as well.

So insane and reckless has our obsession with popular culture become that Ed Young Jr., the founder and pastor of Fellowship Church (one of the largest churches in the country) led a sermon series centered around what Christ would say to various celebrities — Ellen Degeneres, Lance Armstrong, Kim Kardashian, among others. Were there meritorious points made in the series? I reckon there were, but did it warrant taking Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Last Supper portrait and superimposing a picture of a porn star over the face of Philip the Apostle?

The examples are countless, but they all beg the same question: is Christ not enough?

I guess in the hearts and minds of most people, He isn’t. We all struggle with idolatry in one way or another; I am no exception. And until we let go of the rotten bananas the world offers, pull our hand out of the monkey trap, and experience the abundant life, love, and grace Christ freely offers, some folks will feel a need to identify with something tangible. If that something needs to be a celebrity, I’ll at least concede they could do worse than the cast of “I Am Second” characters, Dr. Robert Jeffress, or Tim Tebow.

I suppose they could even do worse than Gordon Keith.