On Celebrity Christians


It was just announced that current Super Bowl Champion, Russell Wilson has filed for divorce from his wife of two years. What I don’t want to do in this piece is throw Russell Wilson under the bus. But this issue, and the internet’s response to it, might point out a potentially unhealthy view we have of celebrity Christians.

It was just this year that Pastor Mark Driscoll interviewed Wilson and some other Seahawk players on their faith. During their Super Bowl run I saw plenty of Christians on Facebook and Twitter posting about the joy of having an openly Christian leader on their team.  Now, in the mere hours following the announcement, Wilson’s Christianity is under attack, and former supporters are hanging their heads in internet shame. Issues like this prove to remind us that we are still works in progress when it comes to redemption, and that each day we must choose to cling to the cross and flee from our sin. They also remind us to pray for those who are in positions of authority and influence.

But I have noticed a trend, which certainly has taken off in the era of internet and social media. Christians have become increasingly vocal and supportive of “celebrity Christians.” This in itself isn’t a problem, but what it could be saying is. From Russell Wilson, to the Duck Dynasty Guys, to Tim Tebow, to the boom of Christian films, what are we expecting from these ambassadors?

I’m all for gratitude, but I’m worried that what lies behind our obsession with celebrity Christians is the idea that they might be a means to make Christianity “cool” or “popular.” This should not be the case. Christianity will never be popular. Nor will it ever be cool. Paul calls our faith foolishness four times…in one book (1 Cor 1:18, 21, 23, 2:14)! There is nothing “sexy” about a bloodied savior dying on the cross for the wickedness of the world. We should never think Christianity is a step towards popularity.

We should be grateful of people who excel in holiness. This should be true across the board whether it is your grandpa, or LeBron James. But we should never seek to have another person validate our faith due to his/her worldly position. No amount of celebrity endorsements can change the natural tendency of a sinful heart. Only Jesus can.

Jesus is the only person who will validate our confidence. In him we have the security to be seen weak and insignificant, because through his weakness we have been made conquerors. Jesus is our greatest celebrity, and he came not to make his followers “cool” or “relevant” but to teach us to serve under the bane of culture, and the banner of hope (Mark 13:13, Luke 6:22). I want to be clear here, I’m not against celebrating Christians, but celebrating Christ is more sustainable. Keep that in mind as we get to see the joy of Christians succeeding in their careers. But also keep in mind that our true cultural standing is “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:8-10).

Fame is nice for Christians, but this side of death we will ultimately be known for our endurance and hope, not our glamor.