I’ve never been big into celebrity culture, TMZ is an unknown territory of wild frontiers and names that I don’t really know. Prone to cynicism about the nature of fame, I tend to stick to the well worn paths of my own interests; The recent wedding of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, however, has made me think. It’s made me think about grace.
The intersection of celebrity culture and Christianity is an interesting one. We should be, by the very nature of our faith, more full of grace than anyone. We should be the very model of grace, understanding, and forgiveness. Sadly it often seems that, when it comes to the matter of celebrities and their journeys of faith, we can sometimes forget all about grace.
Out come the subtly loaded phrases that mention their faith at the same time as expressing doubt on it: “Oh she says she’s a Christian,” or, “apparently they go to church”. It’s as though we’re keen to gain social cachet by linking our faith to someone famous, but at the same time slightly concerned in-case they’ve ever done anything Jesus wouldn’t do. (Because naturally we’ve never done anything that Jesus wouldn’t do.)
…we’re keen to gain social cachet by linking our faith to someone famous, but at the same time slightly concerned in-case they’ve ever done anything Jesus wouldn’t do.
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are two celebrities who profess faith in Jesus. I’ve never met either, though No Church In The Wild may have rattled my car windows a few times, and I know little of their lives. They married a week or so ago in Florence and their pastor, Rich Wilkerson Jr., officiated the ceremony.
We’d had Pastor Rich as a guest at my church, NCLC, about a year ago and so I’d taken the opportunity to talk to a friend at work about this. It was a pleasant surprise when my friend, a non-Christian, observed that there had been a big change for the better in Kim’s life over the past couple of years. Interestingly enough that’s roughly the timespan she’s been attending the church.
I know if that was someone who had walked into one of our own churches, just a regular Jayne who’d had a wild lifestyle and come to Jesus, we would immediately see such comments from a non-Christian as an opportunity to boast on how the gospel changes lives; why is it so often different then, when a person is famous?
The lives of the rich and famous come under constant scrutiny from the media, their every misstep or mistake goes global in minutes. I think that maybe sometimes we’re worried, worried about what happens if a celebrity who professes faith in God then falls from grace with the media. Oh so shameful, what if people find out that Christians make mistakes too?
You know what? If that did happen it would present an opportunity to talk about how God’s grace is sufficient to cover their failings and faults, an opportunity to talk about the true meaning of the gospel, an opportunity to have a conversation. God’s grace is sufficient for you, it’s sufficient for me, and it’s sufficient for whoever puts their faith in Him. Even if they’re famous. Even if they’re infamous.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9
We can’t possibly judge the heart of another person, particularly not through the medium of TMZ or the gossip columns. Far from being full of perfect people, the bible is full of people whose lives would have made some very uncomfortable headlines. King David alone did plenty of things that would have caused uproar and hand wringing and yet – we are told he had a heart that was after God’s own heart.
At the end of the day celebrities are individual human beings, just like us, made in God’s image and with eternity placed within their hearts. Their need for Jesus is not diminished by their social status. Instead of treating them like a breed apart, we need to be clear that they’re part of our family.
Instead of distancing our faith from the faith of celebrities and the like, why don’t we have the courage to talk about the church as it is – a united, global, body – and if that occasionally causes some awkward conversations? That’s far better than having no conversations at all. Don’t underestimate how much the grace of God can come through in a conversation about failings and weakness. It may even be an opportunity to share some of your own story. It is, after all, in our weakness that His strength is made perfect.