My movie Persecuted is scheduled to hit theaters nationwide this summer and I have enjoyed the process so far of screening it for key leaders across the political and religious spectrum, since the film is often described as a political/religious thriller.
One of the most fascinating such screenings came when I recently screened the film for a man who had once been described as one of the nation’s foremost up and coming religious leaders before quitting his burgeoning ministry and simply dropping off of the map – not because of a Jimmy Swaggart type scandal but simply because he had tired of the life of a celebrity preacher. His reaction to the film especially resonated with me because that is exactly what happens to the protagonist in my movie, a TV preacher named John Luther who, after becoming a fugitive after being accused of a murder he didn’t commit, decides its time to get out of the “business” of saving souls on TV.
Tom (not his real name) watched Persecuted, and when he came out of the theater turned to me, rubbed his head, and said “I hope I’m that man, but I wonder if I’m not.”
I’ve never forgotten those words and they ring in my ears every day as I think about this uncompromising man who would give up all of his pleasures and securities for what he believes.
Some might say, “not everyone is called to do what Tom has done,” and that may be true, but in whatever form it may take, we all have the chance to live out our beliefs – or not.
I am especially mindful of all of this after the recent apology by another up and coming megachurch pastor over church monies used for questionable book marketing. Although he didn’t drop out of public ministry, he did say that he too was tired of being a celebrity pastor. While a public apology is a good start, the real problem I see in the church is still at large: Thousands of young people are taught that the highest goal is to become a famous preacher and not necessarily to become more like Jesus. It may not exactly be phrased like that, but it is an unspoken component of the celebrity preacher syndrome.
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SOURCE: Christian Post – Daniel Lusko