Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CELEBRITIES AND STARS- A WORRYING TREND IN THE CHURCH


“The English word celebrity derives from the Latin word celebrer, “to frequent” and more remotely from the Latin celer, “to hasten.” The desire for celebrity is, at its heart, the desire of a person to be “frequented”—to turn heads and command the notice of others. To become a celebrity is simply to succeed in being noticed regularly.” (http://dbts.edu/blog/author/msnoeberger/).

We are living in a time of celebrities, superstars and heroes. And it seems the world is divided into two categorizes the celebrities/superstars and those who want/claim to be associated with them. Stardom comes in different ways there are those who are specially gifted (athletes, speakers, musicians, actors etc.) and there are those who have achieved something great (i.e. Mandela, Thomas Edison) but there are yet those who either have LOTS of money (i.e. Carlos Slim, Bill Gates) or hold a public role or office (i.e. Queen Elizabeth, Barak Obama). Those of us who fail to make it in the above categorizes will often try our best to tick in at least one box and when all else fails then we try as much as possible to get associated with the people who are stars. Everyone wants to be noticed and everyone wants to be heard. No wonder we are obsessed with how many people are following us on social media or how many likes and comments we get on our Facebook statues or how many compliments we get about our achievements. The cult hero syndrome is here to stay!

Sadly this is true even in churches and among Christians and pastors! Ministers of the gospel are becoming stars and celebrities at an alarming rate. With the rise of social media we are daily trumpeting our achievements and marketing ourselves (like products). What is even more worrying is how that it is often about our success; how many people came, what we did, the buildings, how well we are doing, how many people follow us etc. Meanwhile the rest of us are busy trying to get as close as we can to them (superstars or wanna be celebrities) and are eager to show or prove our closeness to them and how that they recognise us and they know us and we actually have personal relationships with them. In extreme situations they have become the rule of faith and practice. How often do we refer to some celebrity rather than the bible when discussing how God wants us to live, serve and function as a church? (Am sure you have got my point!)

I think it is important for me to say that I am saying social media is sin or evil. It is in fact a powerful to share the gospel and further the kingdom of God. I thank God for social media. More often than not I find myself checking my motivates and asking why am doing what am doing and checking if I am not simply looking for the praise of men and seeking to puff myself or up lift my image. Paul and John the Baptist were men who had every reason to boast and glory in their influence and success. If they lived in our days they would be great celebrities, they would have millions of followers yet their attitude was anything but that of stars and we can learn from them.

Paul tells the Corinthians; for what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake… But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. And who can forget the humbling words of John the Baptist when answered; the one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease."