This is something I've always wanted to write on, and finally it has seemed appropriate. With all the Rob Bell controversy recently, the issue of fame has spilt into the Christian world as well.
Fame is a big thing in the modern day world. Take Rebecca Black, the latest teen sensation. The girl can't really sing by her own admission, but wants to be a famous pop star because she watches TV and those are the people on it. People grow up and want to be famous, as put so well by Russell Brand in this clip:
People want fame now, but do we really realize the difficulties attached to this role. Look back to the John Terry saga, where he was removed from England captaincy for cheating on his wife. Now while this act in itself is a bad thing, many of us are so quick to judge John Terry without ever looking at ourselves.
I remember off the back of breaking up with my ex, I went out to a club, as a Christian, and 'pulled' a girl. I'm not proud of this action and haven't done anything like it since but was at a low point and wanted to prove myself with girls again and did. Yet, when I go out to a club in a low point looking for female affirmation I had to work pretty hard to get a simple snog. Now many men do the same as me every week, go to a club looking for female affirmation. Now it is these same men that then go and judge John Terry for this act. When John Terry goes to a club, not even looking for female affirmation, just to relax, girls throw themselves at him. He was THE England captain and for girls that is an attractive trait, and he can have his pick of a large selection of girls. Arguably many of these men, myself included, would do exactly the same in John Terry's position. The difference between us and John Terry is fame, and it seems those of us that do not have this 'fame' can judge those that don't.
Fame is a modern day phenomenon, these are the people we look up to now, yet do we understand them. They are aloof and distant; they are purely made up of the facts/stories we read in papers, the characters they portray in films or the songs they sing. Yet off these things we think we have worked out who they are. Then when we read a story of negative disposition towards a celebrity, which often taints our whole view of them.
I was reading about famous Christians and read that new UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the man who is said to be the future of one of the fastest growing sports in the world, is a devout Pentecostal Christian. I looked into it and one of the first things I’d read is the guy has two kids and isn’t married. In addition he’s a fighter, he lives for violence. The press and my sadly judgmental mind spins it so I become skeptical but then as I delve into it I find articles like this and think, okay the guy has flaws, so do we all, the only difference being his are more publicized than ours. Despite this is he is still using his position to make a difference.
There are very few Christians in the world of fame, and it is not surprising. Those that have become famous either fall away (Katy Perry) or begin to make very questionable life choices (Evangeline Lily). Fame allows you to be the center of your world, you become a somebody, and as a somebody it becomes harder and harder to live under the reign of anything, and this will leave less and less room for God in your life.
Many famous Christians play their cards close to their chest, often keeping the information to themselves rather than publicizing it. Some that I have heard of are Denzel Washington, Paul Walker, Matin Bashir, Owen Coyle, Gavin Peacock, Julian Speroni and Hayley Williams (all of Paramore). It's likely you wouldn't know these guys are Christian, and there's a reason for that. Once the press hears a celebrity is a Christian, they will look to publicize their mistakes more. The fame game is one that scrutinizes mistakes as much as it lauds achievements.
Now enter Rob Bell. This is a guy that for years has been an inspiration to the Christian faith while made many inspiring books and videos. Yet now, he releases a book that on the whole doesn't agree with the Bible. Does this discount his past work, no. For me this has the hallmark signs of a man affected by fame. Fame allows you to become the center of your world, and as the center you increasingly create and fashion the world you want around you. I believe Rob Bell, through spending constant time with the most broken people of the world (which we can all learn from), has begun to create his own Christianity, where these people can enter heaven irrelevant of acceptance of Jesus. To be honest, it’s a lovely message, and I have met many people who I’d love to have in heaven with me, but sadly it isn’t the biblical message. Fame has allowed him to, because increasingly the people who follow him will follow him and his views, not necessarily those of the Bible. He is famous enough to eliminate Hell, as enough people follow him to support him no matter what.
Fame is a big issue, and famous people are primarily still people. They make mistakes. Last year I applied to Big Brother and nearly got in. I thought I could bring a message that Christians are relevant and not all judgmental. Honestly, I'm happy I didn't get in, I believe the show would have tried to spin the footage to make me look crazy of bigoted. Many of my friends who aren't Christian would probably say I am a relevant Christian guy, but many of them don't see my mistakes. I ask if you’re reading this, to be different. Don't judge these guys; many of these people never get to meet normal people. They meet other famous people, or people with preconceived ideas. Be normal. Don't judge, many of us, put in their position would make exactly the same mistakes. Those of us that have sex issues would end up like Paris Hilton, those of us with drug issues would end up like Charlie Sheen, those of us with violence issues would end up like Bobby Brown. Let us endeavor to help the famous be less cut off with the rest of us, so that they may begin to live that way.
Thank you for reading,