“And they called Barnabas, Juniper; and Paul, Mercurius…” (Acts 14:11)
Whenever a celebrity is converted to Christ it makes big news. Recently one Justin Bieber, we are told, has been converted. I am usually slow to accept this as so often a conversion comes upon the heels of some kind of mistake or after the celebrity has caused a rucous and Mr. Bieber has caused his share. However, this conversion seems like it might be the real deal.
It has been reported that he has canceled his tour and ended his friendship with boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. due to his negative influence. These actions were on the councel of his spiritual councel, the pastor of a charismatic church. I recall Bieber “repenting” in away at a celebrity roast in his honour, which I do not recommend. I do not follow the career of Mr. Bieber so I cannot comment on his actions outside of what I’ve listed.
Bieber’s conversion, however, is not the purpose of this article. We intend to (DV) discuss 1. the foolishness celebrity conversions, real or not, bring out in pastors. 2. The idolatry it can cause. 3. The response it should bring out.
The foolishness celebrities bring out in some pastors.
Typically when a pastor “leads a celebrity” to Christ, said pastor wastes no time in putting the celebrity into the pulpit to give a testimony. This breaks (2) two commands in Scripture, 1. “Lay hands suddenly upon no man.” 2. The pastor or bishop cannot be a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he falls into the condemnation of the devil.
1. Lay hands suddenly… This means quite simply, do not put a new convert to service, leave him/her to time alone with God.
2.A pastor (or anyone for that matter) must not be put into the pulpit as they will be puffed up and fall as did the devil.
I have seen pastors cross this line many times. They cannot wait to put their celebrity convert into the pulpit to give their testimony or how the pastor has been such a help. This is often a play of the flesh. The pastor wants the people to see what he has done. It is a shame. Does the pastor put every new convert up in front of the masses and news cameras? Methinks not. Some of the celebrity converts want to keep this quiet and they want to get to know God before professing their new faith. I believe Bieber was one as his baptism was kept quiet for sometime…I believe. Often with these celebrity converts the attention is thrown upon the celebrity, and the pastor as the media is not much interested in the God that saves.
I recall Martyn Lloyd Jones was sought after and asked if he would allow his services to be broadcast. He flatly refused. He said he was not in charge of when God would and would not show up. He was not able to keep his services down to the exact time the broadcasters required. Undoubtedly these broadcasts would have brought many, many more persons to his services, but he would not. This was a man most serious about God.
Whenever a celebrity or a pastor becomes the focus of attention, idolatry becomes a possibility and probabilty. I have been witness to many a pastor that was the focus of hero worship. I remember a young boy saying to a very experienced evangelist, “I like your preaching better than…” To this the evangelist rebuked the young boy and told him sternly, one does not have favorites among preachers. The young boy was startled a bit but the evangelist knows the road the boy was headed down.
Hero worshiping a preacher is not only a danger to the worshiper but to the pastor as well. Paul, when he was called Mercury, distanced himself quickly and corrected the people. Angel’s when worshiped, refuse it. Herod when worsiped accepted it and was killed by God in a slow and horrible manner. Herod was eaten by worms from the inside out.
When a person hero worships a preacher or when a preacher accepts this worship or deep admiration, God becomes small…always. We dislike standing at the back of a church and shaking hands with the congregation as this is a danger to the humility and “smallness” of the preacher. We typically will leave the pulpit and find solitude to be alone with God in prayer. This has caused offense but once explained most persons understand. Some will not accept the answer but one would rather offend men than God. When a pastor announces at the end of the service that I would be in the back to shake hands, I do so, as the prophet is subject to the prophet and I do not wish to make the pastor look bad. However, as we stand there we are speaking with God as the congregants are speaking to us.
When the celebrity convert is put up as special, many God dishonouring things can happen.
1. As already mentioned, the celebrity and or the pastor becomes an idol.
2. The pastor breaks a number of commands given in Scripture, as already noted.
3. Some fans of the celebrity will make false professions of faith and will believe themselves saved.
4. If this celebrity convert is proven false, it gives a black eye to the ministry and Scripture is clear, “the ministry must not be blamed.”
5. Not only does the ministry look bad but the pastor, A representative of God, looks foolish.
6. Not only does the ministry look bad, and the pastor look foolish, but the Christ-ian faith, itself looks bad.
7. Not only does the ministry have a black eye, the pastor looks foolish, The faith itself looks bad, but worst of all, The world has another reason to mock God, Himself.
8. Those that will now mock God, the faith, the pastor, and the ministry continue to fill up their cup of sin with new sin.
9. When a celebrity convert is put front and center against Scripture’s command the convert will or can fall into the same judgement of (s)atan. The celebrity will become big in his/her own sight and God will become small. The celebrity will be asked to write a book and if the celebrity falls The effects of 1-8 is all the greater.
The proper responses that such a conversion, true or false, should bring out.
1. All praise and all Glory must go to God and God Alone for it is God and God Alone, Who saves the sinner and the celebrity is just a sinner to God. God does not get excited over the conversion of the celebrity and heaven and heaven’s angel’s do not rejoice any more or any less over one repentant celebrity.
There is no such thing as a celebrity from God’s point of view except His beloved Son. Truth be told, readers, There should be no celebrities from the Christ-ian point of view either. When we celebrate a human we commit idolatry, plain and simple. That’s not to say we cannot be entertained by Hollywood but we shalt not celebrate their career anymore than any other career.
2. When a celebrity converts to Christ after a crisis or a public snaffu, or a P.R. nightmare the conversion must be suspect. The standards of Christ-ian identification are the same for everyone, “by their fruits you shall know them,” “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” One’s faith will cause problem
Tim. Allen is an example of a celebrity convert. Due to his stand on issues he lost his television show on ABC. The Benham Brothers also lost their show, on HGTV, due to their faith. The Robertsons, of Duck Dynasty fame, have had their share of troubles, with A&E, due to their faith. Dean Cain (90’s Superman and Lois) also has lost work due to his faith.
3. When a celebrity converts to Christ, (2) two things should happen, (1) One. We should pray for them like we would pray for any new convert. (2) Two. The celebrity convert should be left alone so they can get to know God and His Word. No interviews, no testimonies, no book offers. This is true also of any new convert. They must be left alone!!! The only Hands that should be upon them are God’s Hands. So often the church does the new convert a disservice by denying them time with God and His Word by “getting them busy”. Hands Off!!! of all new converts.
To summarize: There is no such animal in the Kingdom of God as a celebrity convert. There are only sinners saved by God’s grace in God’s economy.