We already have a Messiah, thank you

frank reich 1When I was in high school, there was a pretty amazing football game in which the Buffalo Bills were down 32 points against the Houston Oilers and their back up, Frank Reich (who, when looking at that picture, may or may not have also been traveling through time “leaping” into peoples’ bodies so that he could put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that the next leap would be the leap home, but whatever), was brought in due to injury, and he led the team back to win in overtime. It was a pretty special thing. Well, as I’m sure any person my age who attended a youth ministry during that time may remember, after the game Frank quoted from the song “In Christ Alone” (the Christian pop version, not the modern hymn version. Both good songs, though). So, not long after, we are blessed with a music video to “In Christ Alone” sung by Michael English injected with clips from the game and the post-game news conference. Certainly there was about to be revival breaking out across the land. You know what happened?

Nothing.

And then there was a time where famous person X said something about their savior Jesus Christ after they did something great. And another time when famous person Y actually thanked God and credited him with their success in their particular field of awesomeness. And yet, great revival doesn’t seem to break out across the land.

nfl_raylewis_05

That brings us to yesterday’s Super Bowl. I posted something about how I didn’t understand why people were saying they were “happy” for Ray Lewis after the game since they won. His past (and frankly, his present) would call into question about whether or not he should be playing in the league. Anyway, in the gamut of responses I received, the most disturbing concept came from those who were happy that Ray now had the platform to talk about God. This was surely something that came from the Lord, right?

My big question to them is, “Why?”

Why do you think that the gospel needs a platform?

In our human hearts, for some reason we are constantly seeking some legitimacy to the faith we proclaim to have. We perhaps think that if only there were enough famous people to endorse our religion then there might be revival that would break out. It even often times appears that if we can’t find good enough celebrities, then we will just exalt some of our pastors to celebrity status.

But when you open up the pages of Scripture, we find that it was not in the name or notoriety of the people who shared the good news with those around them. The power is in the gospel itself. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

The world loves to have a celebrity endorse its platform, whether or not that celebrity is qualified to do so or not. It works for PETA. It works for political candidates. But the gospel is neither one of those. In fact, the Bible tells us something pretty much opposite about how God chooses to work. “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:27-29).

Could it be that God’s design for the great spread of the gospel is to bring about notoriety for the gospel itself to spark great revivals instead of relying on already established worldly notoriety? Why do we look to famous public figures and hope that they might be able to “convince” people to come to Christ? Do we not believe what the Scriptures testify to us that God will be faithful in bringing death to life simply when the Spirit quickens a heart and the gospel is proclaimed so that he alone will get all the glory?

Church, believe that the “ordinary” ways that God has ordained for the gospel to be spread, in the pulpit and personal discipleship, is sufficient for a mighty work of the Spirit. Revival is not something we can plan or cause by having the right person come and attach their fame to it. It is only when people humble themselves before the Lord that they truly find abundant life. I promise, your pastor in the pulpit, no matter how “gifted” you think he is, is plenty sufficient in his weakness for a great move of God if he is faithful to the Word.

Stop looking for legitimacy for the gospel in famous people. The death and resurrection of Christ is what gives the good news all the credit it needs. Christians often pity the Jews for the fact that they are still awaiting their messiah to come and save them. But the reality is many of us are not all that different. We’re still looking forward to one who is going to change everything for the good instead of realizing that He has already come and will one day come again.

We already have a Messiah, thank you.


  • Steve

    Amen! Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=690618564 Steve Hanchett

    Well said

  • Steph

    Great article! (I chortled at your Quantum Leap reference, because I thought that photo must have been Scott Bakula playing a famous football player. I am not and have never been a football fan, so…)

    • http://www.esbchaskell.org/ Jay Beerley

      Thanks! I’m curious as to how many people understood the reference. But he’s almost a spitting image, no?!

  • Curtis

    Should we not desire people, famous or not, to use their “platforms” as an opportunity to share their reason for hope that is in them (1 Pt 3:15)? I agree that we, sitting at home, should not look to these people to give legitimacy to our faith. But, how should we view the famous redeemed giving glory to God through their Savior Jesus Christ?

    • http://www.esbchaskell.org/ Jay Beerley

      Great question, Curtis. I don’t begrudge anyone from sharing the reason for the hope in them (although generic God, Savior, Jesus talk isn’t necessarily that). My main point is that we must never give that kind of testimony more validity than any proclamation of the true gospel. I would also maybe include our desire to have the former drug-addicted prostitute share her testimony because it is more “powerful” than my growing up in church testimony. All salvation is a miracle. Blessings!

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  • Caleb

    I believe any kind of telling about Jesus can have great possibilities I think there is some middle ground between the attitudes you seem to be condemning and the view you seem to be expressing. Although I am not a follower of all celebrities who share their faith (I haven’t even paid much attention to Lewis) I actually feel that much of my life has been effected by certain Christian celebrities that I followed. You say that God can’t use already established platforms. I think he will, and does, use all types of platforms. I believe he is looking for those who will share Him with the world. He can very well use some celebrity to bring the gospel to some (or many), maybe even one who was already famous before he became a Christian. Just because there are those who worship Christian celebrity doesn’t mean it’s an invalid avenue for Him to use. I don’t believe we should put any hope in Christian celebrities to shine a light in our world. We should be shining a light now. We shouldn’t wait on celebrities to shine a light but we shouldn’t discourage them from doing so.

    • Caleb

      by “any hope” I meant “all our hope”

    • http://www.esbchaskell.org/ Jay Beerley

      Again, if a celebrity wants to use the platform they have to graciously articulate the gospel (Kirk Cameron comes to mind) then go for it. I don’t want to discourage any of that. But it doesn’t make the gospel more successful. That’s my point. The power is not in the messenger. It’s in the message. Thanks for the feedback!

  • dave voetberg

    Thanks for this one. Agreed. There’s only one Hero.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joyfulprayz Robin Crump

    Fantastic message. Amen

  • erik

    Ponder this verse:

    Philippians 1:15-18 ” Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

    • http://www.esbchaskell.org/ Jay Beerley

      Very powerful passage. Again, I don’t think it really equates to what I’m saying, but my response would be two-fold:
      - What do you think Paul defines as preaching Christ?
      - Do you think Paul would think if Caesar would preach Christ that it would be more effective than the local “unknown” elder preaching Christ?

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