Celebrity Jesus

I’ve been thinking a lot about listening for the voice of God, especially in matters of discernment. I’m convinced that most of us don’t recognize God speaking to us because we don’t know him well enough to recognize his voice. Let me illustrate.

We live in a culture that is obsessed with celebrities. Most people would be hard pressed to name ten world leaders, yet we can name countless celebrities along with the songs they sing and the acting roles they’ve played. Among the world’s celebrities there are a few that we as individuals latch onto. They become our favorite celebrities, and while we don’t join an “official” fan club, we still know everything there is to know about them. We know the names of their kids, where they were recently spotted on vacation, what kind of dog they own, what kind of childhood they had (thanks to Oprah–another celebrity), and a whole ton of other things about them. In many ways we act as if we “know” them.

However, in spite of knowing all these things about them, most of us would not recognize their voice if they called us on the phone (unless of course it was Morgan Freeman). You may have seen every movie they were ever in, read every article written about them, and watched every interview they’ve ever done. Yet, if they called your phone today it is extremely unlikely that you would recognize their voice.

Suppose I answer my phone today and there is a woman’s voice on the other end of the line and she says, “Mark,” I am absolutely 100% positive that I will correctly recognize the voice if it is my wife calling. If, on the other hand, Tom Cruise calls me and simply says, “Mark,” I’m certain that I will say, “Who is calling?” Yes, I’ve seen Risky Business, Top Gun, Days of Thunder, all the Mission Impossibles, etc., but that doesn’t mean anything. I know my wife–I know about Tom Cruise.

I believe most Christians know about the celebrity Jesus. They’ve read a lot about him and they’ve seen a lot of his performances (from a distance), but they don’t know him as an intimate friend. They can tell you what major events occurred in his life and what things he’s said to others, but they don’t know him as one whose voice is recognizable whether it is loud and direct or soft and intimate. The result is that we often miss him when he calls. When the moment presents itself for us to respond to his voice, we are unsure whether or not it is actually him on the other end of the line…”Lord, surely that can’t really be you?!”

In order to know a celebrity and not just know about them, you have to be friends with them. Christians are in desperate need of rediscovering Jesus as a friend (John 15:15) and not a celebrity. As with any friendship, this can only come through countless hours spent together, talking and listening in the midst of sharing in each other’s lives.

How are you cultivating a friendship with Jesus? How are you learning to listen to him? How are you spending time alone with him? Will you recognize him when he calls?

Remember, “Prayer is not something you do; it is someone you’re with.” — Chuck Miller

9 thoughts on “Celebrity Jesus

  1. Pingback: Jesus the Celebrity?

  2. Nice post. I wish, though, that he had included the verse before (John 15:14) where Jesus says who his friends are. They are not just those who pray, but those who obey his commands. With Jesus, there is no friendship without obedience.

      • No problem, Chad, I’ve made the same mistake at times. I appreciate your comment and certainly agree that John 15:14 is an important verse. The danger in writing and/or speaking is that often times when we emphasize one thing it leaves other things unsaid. In my mind, as I was writing this, listening to God for the purpose of discernment presupposes that you are wanting to act upon hearing his voice out of a desire to be obedient to Jesus in the specific context of your own life. Thanks again for the comment!

      • Good point, Mark. I agree, and would hope that the person seeking God intends to obey what is said. Speaking from personal experience, I know there was a long period of time, however, where a major part of my life was living in disobedience to God’s word, while at the same time I sought his counsel in other areas of my life. I thought I was his friend because I talked to him when I needed something but the truth was I was anything but a friend, more like an enemy.

        peace to you!

  3. So timely! This is exactly where I have been in my walk with the Lord these last few months. And it took a member of my Sunday School class reading from the 15th Chapter of John to jumpstart my prayer life and my desire to think of Jesus as an intimate friend! I wish everyone knew the truth of the old hymn “What a Friend we Have in Jesus”!

  4. Pingback: The World of Jesus Freak » Blog Archive » 1223 – Linki na dziś (04.09)

  5. Hi Marc, it is all the more difficult for people who are struggling with doubts and uncertainty about the Christian faith to develop a “friendship” with Jesus. I am an agnostic Christian which means I don’t know if there is a God or not but choose to hope there is one.

    For me it is of uttermost importance to be always honest of God, even if it means recognizing to Him you don’t even know if He truly exists.

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son


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