Is Jesus Just Another Celebrity?
Celebrities are more accessible today than ever before. At least, that’s what Social Media would like to tell you. Outlets like Instagram and Twitter give us a glimpse into the lives of people who have massive cultural influence. So much so that you begin to believe that you are actually connected to your favorite celebrity without ever having actually met them through the world of likes, comments, and retweets.
Consider Instagram’s top three most followed accounts: Cristiano Ronaldo (161 million followers), Ariana Grande (150m), and Selena Gomez (148m). Each of these people have millions of followers, as well as millions of likes per photo, tens of thousands of comments cascading underneath each caption, and all the while millions of people believe they are actually having a meaningful interaction through these digital means of “interaction.”
How many people have actually met Cristiano, Ariana, or Selena and how many have actual relationships with these celebrities? How many interact with them regularly in person, or have shared a meal with them?
While Cristiano, Ariana, and Selena each have millions of followers, what’s interesting is the disparity between the amount of followers and following for each of these celebrities. Selena in particular only follows 59 other accounts!
Millions might know about Cristiano, but if you randomly picked one name from his list of followers and asked if he knew the name, chances are about 1/161,000,000 that he would. Scroll through the hundreds of thousands of comments under Cristiano’s latest post, and the one person you’re not likely to see a comment from is Cristiano! Yet, thousands of people believe they are having a meaningful interaction with him on Instagram.
Do we have the same problem with Jesus? Jesus Christ is unequivocally the most influential figure in all of human history. Approximately 2.2 billion people claim to follow him today in 2019.
We print his name on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers, and nearly everyone in our culture has at least heard his name. People raise millions of dollars to travel overseas to share his message with the lost world. Millions attend church services across the continent every Sunday to sing his praises.
But I wonder, are we “following” Jesus the way we follow our favorite instagram celebrities? Do we really know him, or are we just exposed to his fame? Is Jesus just another celebrity?
Jesus gives a chilling warning in Matthew 7:21-23- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven… many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me you lawbreakers!’”
Astoundingly, the point of the passage is not an urgency for us to get to work for Jesus or even to get busy getting to know him, but rather for him to know us! The barrier blocking these busy people from entering God’s kingdom are these terrible words uttered from the mouth of Jesus: “I never knew you.” These people knew of Jesus well enough to give their lives to his cause, but they were only acquainted with his fame. Are we the same?
Fortunately for us, Jesus is actually much more accessible to us than any Instagram celebrity will ever be. Though he is transcendent God by nature, he made himself completely accessible by adding humanity on top of his divinity, in order to make himself entirely within reach of mankind. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)
So while Jesus is literally the most famous person in human history, he is entirely accessible. God became a man to reveal what God is like (John 1:18), and though he is the most famous person to ever live, he is not out of reach. He’s not a elevated celebrity who is unable to relate to the lives of real people. On the contrary, “he has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin,” (Hebrews 4:15) and all of this to create a direct link between you and God, that you may approach “with boldness” (4:16).
Why not approach him with boldness today?