Christians love to have celebrities that they can call their own. Whether it’s the Jesus tattoo on Justin Bieber, a prayer moment after a Tebow touchdown, or the soft strains of “In Christ Alone” coming from Owl City, it just feels good to have celebrities who claim the name of Christ. Just like we do.
Why We Can Be Grateful for Christian Celebrities
There are plenty of reasons to be thankful for Christians who receive a lot of attention. Here are just a few.
- We can admire them for maintaining their testimony in difficult careers.
- We can admire them for maintaining their testimony in spite of bitter, profane, and spiteful naysayers.
- We can admire them for pointing to God, not self, for their talents.
- We can be thankful that they draw greater attention to Christ as a result of speaking out about their faith. John 3:16 has probably never in the history of the world had more widespread attention than when Tim Tebow played football.
Right Thinking on Christian Celebrities
In spite of our appreciation for them, we would do well to be aware of how we’re responding to them. More often then not, it is not the Christian celebrity that becomes odious, but the fawning fans of those Christian celebs. Here are some suggestions to keep your attitude in check.
- Just be careful. You’ve seen it happen before. Politicians, entertainers, and sports stars can play the “Christian card” to win public favor, in spite of the fact that said public figure may not possess genuine saving faith. No, we should not question the faith of every professing Christian. Christ warned against that (Matthew 7:1-4). It is important, however, not to use your favorite Christian celebrity as a witnessing tool or evangelistic technique. LeBron James may indeed be a follower of Christ, but it is not necessary to use him as means of drawing others to Christ. Remember, these are people (famous, yes) we’re talking about, not Messiahs.
- Pray for them. Because they are in the public eye, maintaining their testimony is very important for Christian celebrities, just as it should be for every follower of Jesus. Do you have six million Twitter followers, and paparazzi trailing you to work every morning? Yeah, didn’t think so. Pray that these men and women would have the God-given strength to fight temptation and relentlessly pursue Christ.
- Don’t worship them. No Christian in his or her right mind would actually “worship” a celebrity, in the raw sense of the word. But, again, we must be careful. When we place our faith in someone, anyone, we are expressing to that person their worth—the first step towards worship. We can appreciate their worth in athletics, art, performance, whatever, but when it comes to their spiritual status, take care. In spite of the Christian words of a Denzel Washington or the evangelical stance of a Jonas brother, don’t place them on a pedestal. Appreciate them, but recognize that they’re just people. True, they may have a better singing voice or jump-shot, but they are people—human beings with the same frailty, temptation, and trials that every human being experiences.
- Don’t expect too much from them. Christians usually respond in one of two ways to Christian celebs. One option is, “Oh oh! They are amazing and wonderful and I’m so glad for them!” Second, some people say, “They are dirty hypocrites. How could they be a real Christian and a celebrity?” For both extremes, we would do well to remind ourselves not to expect too much. Why doesn’t Bieber shout “JESUS SAVES!!!” at the end of his concerts? Why does Tim Tebow play football on Sunday? Maybe Bieber doesn’t shout it out for the same reason you don’t shout it out to your entire office each morning. And if Tim Tebow didn’t play football on Sunday, then you would be so bored on those lazy afternoons you wouldn’t know what to do. I jest, of course, but keep in mind that, even though they are Christians, they aren’t in the same career as Billy Graham.
Do we need Christian celebrities? No. We can be thankful for them, and we can praise God for whatever Christian testimony and influence that they may have. But in the end, we simply need Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). That’s all. The preaching of the cross still may seem foolish to the world, and that’s okay (1 Corinthians 1:23). A touchdown thrown by a Christian may or may not make our faith any more or less acceptable to a nonbeliever.
We can cling to Christ. We must cling to Christ. Celebrities will come and go.