But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29
When Christians create their own celebrity culture and celebrate it, they are showing intense immaturity. That is the analysis of Paul. The Corinthian church was rife with this divisive celebration of celebrity. And it is the first thing that the apostle Paul chose to rebuke in them.
Why is celebrity culture not in alignment with the mission of the church? It is because we are meant to celebrate only one Person: Jesus Christ. All the rest of us are expendable in that great worship of Jesus! To follow human leaders at the expense of following Jesus is to invite a form of idolatry into our lives. Paul was being made into a celebrity, and he never even asked for it! Calvin was right to observe that the human heart is an idol-making factory. The Corinthian church was so rife with this celebrity idolatry that the divisions began to hurt the church. Paul rebuked it.
Celebrity culture runs counter to God's plan. God does not need "great men". He chooses weak, foolish, lowly, and despised people to work through, and He always will. But we Christians find celebrity to be somehow comforting. American evangelical culture is probably worse about it than they ever were in Corinth! I had to take a course my freshman year in Bible College with the pretentious title: "Great Men - Great Revivals". And we hardly ever opened our Bibles in that course. It was all about a survey of evangelists throughout 200 years of evangelical culture. It was a who's who of celebrity idolatry. And we are still at it... just look at the evangelical penchant for marketing. It is all about a name.
I think when we make a big deal about people God has gifted to teach and to lead, we run the risk of boasting before God. And that is counter-productive to the goals of the kingdom. How about instead just making a big deal about the message of the gospel that those teachers have been given to preach! It is time to let Jesus be the only celebrity in the church. But we have to humbly admit that there is not anything in anyone else worth making a big deal about.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13