Making Jesus Famous

Making Jesus Famous March 17, 2014

There is a new phraseology making the rounds in Evangelical circles. I’ve heard it said several times as of late.

It is meant to be a form of encouragement, I suppose, although, to be honest I’m never sure why these oddities pop up the way they do. If I had to guess, I’d say that the phrase is a derivative of people raised up under the celebrity culture of Reality TV and big church personalities.

I heard it again just the other day in a group prayer situation: “We just want to make you famous Jesus.”

There’s a certain quarterback from a much-loved university in the South that told a news anchor his whole mission in life is to “make Jesus famous.”

To be clear, I’m not questioning the devotion to God of anyone who makes such a statement, although, I am completely baffled by their remarks.

I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t need the help of a quarterback or a worship leader to make him famous.

More importantly, I’m pretty sure Jesus never had fame as a goal.

I don’t think Jesus cares two whits about fame. If he cared about fame, he might have behaved better, treated people more gently, instead of going off half-cocked at the Temple and the Pharisees the way he did.

Branding was never part of God’s plan. In fact, in Jesus’s day, branding had a whole different contextual meaning, usually involving hot coals and a burning poker.

Brentwood Evangelicals have changed all that. Nowadays it’s not uncommon for churches to spend more time, money and effort on developing a Social Media plan than it is to talk about the plan of salvation. Salvation, like sin, it seems, has lost favor with God’s people.

It turns out that among a certain demographic (read younger) God’s people are as hellbent on seeking the limelight as Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus.

Christians are now praying for ways to make Jesus famous.

My people used to have a different saying which seems approp here:  Gag-a-maggot-off-a-gut-wagon. I’m not sure exactly what that means, either, but I would rather gag-a-maggot than to work as Jesus’s PR agent, booking him on the Today Show and Late Night with Jimmy KimmelI don’t think Jesus would be a very good guest. He would be a cross between Bruce Dern and Bill Murrey, alternately surly and somewhat abstract. 

I was distressed to learn that Jen Hatmaker (of all people) has joined forces in an effort to make Jesus famous. Hatmaker, a pastor’s wife and mother to five, is going to be bringing her own special “brand” of Christianity to the ever popular HGTV.

According to Christianity Today, Hatmaker said: “We told HGTV, ‘Listen, we are super-Christian, you guys. This is not gray. We’re all the way. Brandon’s a pastor, I’m a Christian author and speaker—this is who we are,’ ” she said. “They said, ‘Yes. All of it.’ That’s how they’re portraying us on the show, which is lovely.”

Have Evangelicals learned nothing from Jon & Kate Plus Eight?  What about Duck Dynasty?

Jen, I adore you, but really? 

Reality TV by its very nature is a deception.

Reality TV isn’t real. There are story-lines and editing and narrative arcs to every show. There has to be or you wouldn’t watch it. There are contrived relationships, contrived dramas, contrived experiences, all recorded for the public’s voyeuristic and disturbing pleasure. 

I am so saddened by this. 

I am an author. I understand that there is a marked difference between my public persona and the intimacy I share with my family. Inviting a television crew into one’s home muddles that line.

There is no such thing as reality TV.  It’s a misnomer. It’s a lie. 

Nor is there such a thing as a Super-Christian. Shiny people aren’t really glossy in person. They are broken. Shattered, inside and out.

And seriously, people, do we need to keep putting our underage children on the sacrificial altar of television in the name of making Jesus famous?


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