The sides have been chosen and the battle lines drawn. Each warring party is now firmly entrenched as volley after volley is launched into the court of public opinion. Meanwhile, five young girls are forced to relive their most shameful moment as its painful reality is paraded across the Internet sky. It’s not like they did anything wrong to deserve this; they’re simply innocent victims of a dysfunctional world gone viral.
Of course, I am referring to the Josh Duggar transgressions that all of us are tired of hearing about—although, for some reason, we feel compelled to read the latest posts either condemning or defending the perpetrator. There’s a related issue, though, that seems to garner little attention in the Christian blogosphere—The Danger of Celebrity Christianity.
Try to imagine, if you will, Jesus and His disciples on their own reality show. I can’t even begin to picture such a scenario. How about you? Jesus often avoided the public spotlight, and though much of His ministry would make for good drama, “favorable ratings” rested nicely in the basement of His priority list.
Ever since the day that the serpent slithered through the garden, venomous tongues have wreaked havoc in our world. Well aware of the humanity’s potential for vitriol, Jesus continually warned His disciples that they would face violent persecution for no other reason than being devoted to Him.
“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.” John 16:1-3 (NASB)
Christians have been at ease in the United States for so long that we often react with a sense of indignant disbelief when people attack our faith. Not only have we closed our eyes to the painful New Testament truth of persecution, we fail to take into account the plight of our brothers and sisters in many parts of the globe.
Let’s get something straight—the world’s system is not Christian friendly, nor should we expect it to be. The pursuit of popularity and devotion to Jesus Christ form two parallel paths that will never meet. Those who seek the glory of the world forfeit the glory of God, and vice versa. This is the real danger of celebrity faith. Influence and popularity might be closely related, but they are two very different creatures.
If those of us who are Christians want to make a difference in this world, we must come to grips with the fact that godly influence comes with a price. Earthly loss, however, is heavenly gain, and so whatever price we pay is well worth the cost. We would do well to contemplate these things so that we know what we’re dealing with and what price we’re willing to pay.
And the Duggars, what were their motives? In all honesty, I can’t say what the Duggar adults were pursuing when they decided to illuminate the TV spotlight on their children. Perhaps, they saw their show as an opportunity to promote their faith. We really don’t know. But one thing is clear—in light of Josh’s past history, they put their family in an especially precarious position. I hope and pray that things turn out well for all of them—especially the young girls who have been caught in the crossfire of adult vitriol.
Regardless of where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or how we feel about the Duggars, the God of this Universe is redemptive. He seeks always to save us from our sins, always to heal us from our hurts, and always to restore us to wholeness. It’s a good thing because ours is not a safe journey!