You are not going to believe this: John Mayer just became a Christian! He met Bono (U2) at a benefit last summer and has been in an ongoing conversation about faith since then. For whatever reason, he finally gave his life to Jesus within the last few weeks. Not only that, but Madonna and David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey and every famous person in the world became a Christian, too. Plus, I am completely making all of this up. I do not know about the faith of anyone I just mentioned. But I have been wondering why most people (including me) get very excited when they hear that someone famous is or has become a Christian.
In college I was a huge follower of this really cool band. They were not Christians, but they were cool. Recently one of them became a Christian and I have told everyone I know as if their life depends on knowing about it. Most of the people I tell act very surprised. I guess they thought someone like that was unreachable or didn’t need Christ.
This morning at church a semi-famous Christian artist sang a couple of tunes. He also prayed, and some part of me was glad to know that he prayed like that. Maybe I thought that semi-famous people didn’t pray.
In his book Searching for God Knows What, Donald Miller describes a worldview that supposes we are all in a lifeboat where someone has to be thrown overboard. He suggests that we consequently act in ways that will increase our odds of not being the one that others vote off the boat. So we naturally seek to identify ourselves with the popular majority and form alliances that validate our existence.
That is why when my neighbor or a prostitute or the socially awkward comes to Christ, we are happy in a charitable sense, but not with the same enthusiasm that we have because Bono is rumored to follow Christ.
Identifying ourselves with the good-looking people of the world makes us feel better about ourselves. We would be Christians no matter what, but we are affirmed in our faith when it gets a booster shot of coolness. Something about it being fashionable makes it feel truer. A few clarifications at this juncture: Getting excited about famous people coming to Christ is not wrong. Getting less excited about not-famous conversions may be. Also, I will concede that our response could be in light of the famous person’s potential influence. But even then, I think we are possibly excited about that influence in part because it will persuade still more people to our side of the boat. Again, majority is affirming.
Jesus was no more amazed or excited when Paul came to faith than when one of the women who heard Him preach on the hillside that one day believed. He is not looking for anyone to affirm His existence. He is not hoping for a few good recruits and a better season next year. He knows who He is and where He came from.
Jesus warned us about looking for affirmation or identity in the wrong places. He said that the world would hate us because we are not of it, and that following Him would involve something like jumping off the lifeboat and walking in a realm where the most exciting things are unseen.