The Dangers of Celebrity Worship

9:32 AMHeather

Warning:  If this post steps on your toes, don't worry--you aren't the only one.  This is written by a blogger with bruised feet.

Okay, here's a riddle for you.  What do Leviticus 19:15, James 2:1-9 and our current culture of celebrity worship all have in common?  Well, LOTS.  And that is what we shall dive into today.  Last night, I sat once again through another Beth Moore video from the James study, my feelers all hurt because conviction was hitting hard.  Oh the glorious brutality of these studies.  Sorta like witnessing a train wreck--you can't look away.  Except that I was learning that I am the train wreck.  Gracious sakes.  

Last night, also not the first time since I started the James study, my study into God's favor and this study of James completely converged.  Don't ya love how our big God does that?  I still laugh at myself that I am amazed when he affirms his own Old Testament Word with New Testament words.  Uh, yeah--but of course he does?  Look for yourself at Leviticus 19: 15:

“‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality 
to the poor or favoritism to the great, 
but judge your neighbor fairly."

Okey dokey.  Now, look at James 2:1, 8-9: 

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism... 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  

As I read this complete James 2 passage, I have to admit, I was feeling a little prideful at first.  James addresses when a rich man walks into a meeting and we give them a good seat versus making a poor man literally sit on the floor--or in the original language--be our footstools.  Now, I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time some rich dude walked into church and I gave him the best seat in the house.  Or, for that matter, when a poor person walked in and I made him become my ottoman.  

Not so fast, apparently.  If we are going to get real here and REALLY let the Lord meddle in our business, perhaps we need to break this down a bit.   When was the last time you found yourself being particularly kind or pleasant or even thought of doing so with someone who might be a person of influence?  What if a famous person walked into your church--would you try to be sitting near them?  (I won't even go into detail about how I once sat a few rows behind Beth Moore in a Houston church and found myself ridiculously wishing we could have an in-depth conversation).  

What if a stinky homeless man, or a woman with piercings and tattoos and scantily clad walked into your church?  Would you do the same?  Look around your social circles.  Bet they look a lot like you.  Truly, the church as a whole (not just my particular fellowship) has a big old problem with looking too much alike.  We tend to avoid getting dirty and mixing with those whose lives are very different from ours.  

And, this is where this post might get EVEN more personal.  What about our culture of celebrity worship?  Yep, James has something to say about that, too.  Of the rich, he makes this point: 
7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? 
James 2:7

Here's what Beth Moore has to say about that.  She asked this pointed question.  Do we celebrate or embrace celebrities who blaspheme the name of Christ?  She asked if we particularly love or idolize or seek out entertainment by those who publicly ridicule or denounce the name of our Savior?  This is favoritism.  And, not just favoritism.  But, a practice that does not mix with who and whose I am.  

Favoritism in its original form denoted this type of word picture, as I learned from last night's video.  When someone wanted audience with a king, they would come in and lay prostrate.  The king would show favoritism by beckoning them to lift their chins from the floor in order to engage with him.  Or, he'd leave them lying on the floor, face down.  Here's the real kicker to your already perhaps bruised ego.  Who in your life is requesting an audience with you--but you leave their face to their ground?  Who do you allow to engage with you?  Do you intentionally seek to give audience to those whose lives are muddied and soiled by this world and it's sorrows?  Do you look for ways to do so?  Or, do you reserve it all for those who are rich, famous, kind to you, influential?  What of your family?  Do you give them your full attention--or do you give your attention elsewhere?  Are you so busy keeping up with the so-and-so's that you don't consider how to go out of your way to lift the head of the down trodden?  

Glimpse of grace:  OUCH!  That about sums it up for me personally.  Favoritism?  Once the microscope is applied, I can't deny my guilt here.  I have a long way to go.  Truth is--we all do.  And, here's some truth to ponder.  According to Beth Moore, the New International Commentary of the New Testament translates James 2:1 in this way: 
"Do not try to combine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Glory, with the worship of men's social status."

Beth Moore summed up last night's video with this zinger.  Faith and favoritism don't mix.  The James passage talks about how we treat the rich versus the poor.  But, we might throw in our own personal criteria.  How we treat those like us versus those not like us.  How we treat those who are kind or in a position of influence versus those who are difficult or lacking influence.  How we treat those well dressed versus those lacking fashion sense.  How we treat those with private pretty sins versus those who've served time and done drugs.  How we treat celebrities or the famous versus those who feel their plight is never noticed.  And, what of that convicting criteria to be careful about worshiping those who blaspheme our Savior?  

Please hear me.  This is not a call to media boycott.  No, this is a call to cry out to God and ask him to search our hearts and show us exactly what He would have YOU to do about this.  Rest assured, I am doing the same for myself.  This is a call to dig deeper, give more, be open to His desire to cut away that which pulls us from Him.  This is a call to leave the favoritism to Him.  We worship a Glorious Savior who thinks every single one of us on planet Earth is His favorite--and worthy of the price of His life.  Be mindful of how you can lift the head of those around you and engage with them.  In doing so, we point them to His Glory.

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