“So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16)
We live in a celebrity culture. We value fame and reward people of fame with a certain amount of power, prestige, and possessions. Fame equals success and success equals fame. I don’t agree with that idea, and I bet you don’t either, but it impossible to deny that our culture is infatuated with fame.
The church world is not exempt from this infatuation.
We have our share of celebrities! Tim Tebow, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Joel Olsteen, Billy Graham, Matt Redmman, Toby Mac, Rob Bell, and John Piper, just to name a few.
Success, in the Christian world, is often based on the size of your church, how many books or cds you have sold, what conferences you are invited to…basically, how famous you are, how many people know your name. Please understand, I believe most celebrity Christians don’t enjoy celebrity, and most will tell you not to look to them, but to Jesus. But we, the average Christian, celebrate celebrity.
Our attitude of celebrity is the exact opposite of Jesus’ attitude.
I was reminded of this truth today after a conversation with one of God’s heroes. His name is Rev. Frank.
Frank is 71 years old and has been in ministry (mainly pastoral ministry) for more years than I have been alive. He has retired from pastoring for a more important calling. Every day, Rev. Frank goes into the prisons of Middle Tennessee and ministers to inmates 1 and 2 at a time. His stories are incredible. He has seen miracles. He meets with guys on Death Row. He has watched murderers confess their sins and break down in tears, only to be restored, forgiven, and transformed. Rev. Frank has never written a book. He has never spoken at a national conference. He never pastored a church of more than 100 people. But he is more of a celebrity than anyone I know. None of the guys we hold up in the evangelical world as “experts” can hold a candle to what Rev. Frank does everyday, without fanfare, without pay, without any notice from anyone. Rev. Frank tears up when he talks about his flock of prisoners. He calls them the “joy of his life.”
If I am going to model my ministry after anyone, it is going to be Rev. Frank. To me, he is the personification of Jesus Christ. He is a true celebrity in the eyes of God. He is continuing the work of Jesus.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mind, you did for me” (Matthew 25:36-40).
Lord, today my prayer is that You will make me more like Christ. And if you can’t make me more like Him, than at least make me more like Rev. Frank.