A few weeks ago I wrote about how Donald Miller made countless Christians believe that one day they too could be a religious celebrity. Via his down to earth nature and non-super conservative Christian ways, his readers long to be like him – a respected Christian leader of sorts who holds no pastoral role nor ministry yet is looked to as an authority.
This is not unique to Christianity, at some point nearly every kid wants to be the star on stage, either as an actor, comedian or the one holding a guitar with lights illuminating them. However in recent years as Christianity has continued to develop its own (peculiar) subculture and therefore celebrities, that desire to be sought after and highly regarded has exploded.
One of the dangers of advancing in the faith is that it can fill you with a sense of pride in your knowledge. I remember in college I somehow emerged as an informal leader of sorts among my Christian cohorts. I attended a non-religious institution and I had nothing to do with the campus ministries, but among the Christians that hung out together I rose in rank.
Of course it felt great, who doesn’t love being seen as wise and knowledgeable and as the answer guy?
I remember some people came to me with a spiritual question, based on an event in the Bible, I had never heard of, yet I wowed them with an on the fly “I’m smart and can figure out your question” type of answer. Inevitably this phase didn’t last long, as my own questions and presumptions humbled me and helped me calm down a little bit.
I think the danger in being a leader is your own ego naturally swells up, and if you answer enough questions and doubts you think you’ve got a lot figured out. You even think because of your insight that you therefore are enjoying a close relationship with God. Maybe you even understand God.
And when you think you’ve got a good enough grip on the divine that’s when you fit him into a system of cause and effect, a system of this is how it all works, a system of this is what God is.
He doesn’t fit in those very well. For a silly, probably out of context example – in the New Testament times people thought Elijah was going to come back since he didn’t die but ascended to heaven. Well Elijah did come back and he didn’t. He didn’t return as himself, but as John the Baptist.
So just be careful, because God doesn’t stay pinned very well, and he can humble people with the best of ’em. Know that knowledge doesn’t equal knowing, nor do answers equal a relationship. And ultimately your goal is people following Jesus, and not people following you, as appealing as it sounds. A better world is made when we aren’t so concerned about the spotlight making us look sexy.