Recent conversations on social media and elsewhere have been sounding alarms on the toxicity of celebrity culture within the body of Christ. I was asked to chime in on the subject by sharing several ways that I practice personal accountability and attempt to protect myself from getting sucked into the celebrity quicksand.
Most of what I’ve learned in this area (and every other) I’ve learned the hard way, and I don’t pretend to have this one mastered. I so badly want to walk the remainder of my journey without detouring into a deep ditch but, if I’m able to do so, it will be by God’s grace.
These are the particular graces he’s given me that help me along my way:
1. I don’t trust myself.
The upside of a downward spiral into despair and defeat in young adulthood is that pretty early on, I was forced to face not only the foolish things I had done but also the stark realization that there was likely no end to what I was capable of doing. The parts of my past that I loathe most are those God most uses for my present protection. God forgives our sins and casts them into the depths of the sea—a comfort and relief beyond words—but nonetheless, he does not mind me remembering those sins well. I never walk in front of a group without recalling the pit from which I was rescued and the rock from which I was hewn.
As a safeguard to my listeners, I also practice personal transparency in my teaching by being open about my present flaws and past failures. I spare them the graphics but try to make sure every audience knows the truth: that God has delivered me from serious strongholds of sin and, if I stand, I stand by grace alone.
2. I don’t particularly trust other people.
I don’t entrust myself to audiences or followers or approval ratings. And I trust no one less than a Christian celebrity-lover. I’ve learned that anyone capable of adoring you is equally capable of abhorring you. I love and appreciate every individual and group I have the privilege to serve, face-to-face or online, and do so wholeheartedly, but I have been around this block enough times to know how fickle the human heart is.
The same fickle heart beats in my own chest. You have not quite lived in this ridiculously silly celebrity culture until you’ve been told one day how loved you are and the next day how hated you are—and sometimes by the same individual. At any given time I scroll through my Twitter feed, no sooner has someone claimed I’m a fine teacher than another claims I’m a false teacher.
In that context, Christ’s words in John 2:24–25 come to me often: “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (ESV). I’m not him. I don’t know what is “in man,” but I’ll take his word for it.
The other titanic caution for me is that the higher the elevation, the further an individual has to fall. 2 Samuel 1:19 reads, “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen!” (ESV). There is a nosebleed section where a person’s integrity is vulnerable to a massive hemorrhage. No one is beyond falling, unfortunately not even the sincerest servant of God. There is a real live devil who has a method to his madness. He is cold, calculating, and disturbingly patient. The higher we are elevated, the more he has to gain by our public toppling.
That doesn’t mean we are bound to fall. It just means we will never keep our integrity unintentionally. Show me a godly servant who has made it over a long haul and I’ll show you a servant who pursued godliness and kept her fear of the Lord.
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Source: Christianity Today