Celebrity Gossip!

Celebrity gossip is everywhere – supermarket checkout lines, radio talk shows, television programs devoted to nothing but the latest details of celebrities’ lives. Why do we do it? Is it to satisfy our voyeuristic tendencies, are we envious of their lifestyles, do we want to escape for a moment whatever deficiencies we think exist in our own lives? That’s for the psychologists to figure out.

What I suggest we do is watch this great little video that makes fun of all that, and which shows just how good a sport Jennifer Aniston can be about all the gossip that surrounds her life. Just click that link and watch her and Ryan Seacrest and Jimmy Kimmel poke fun at society’s appetite for inside looks at the lives of the rich and famous.

The Night Visit

Jesus attracted this type of attention. Crowds and leaders and common people and the intelligentsia and the working class all wanted to see what this man was about.

One who came was Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Jewish ruling council, who visited Jesus at night. A lot of people knock Nicodemus for making a night visit, as if he were trying to hide his interest in Jesus. That doesn’t make much sense to me seeing as how Pharisees were meeting with Jesus all the time, even inviting him into their homes for dinner. Instead, I think he was probably a busy man what with all his responsibilities and he came to visit when he had the time. I love the way he started the conversation:

“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” (John 3:2.)

If I’d tried this, my opening line would have been something like, “Uh, hi.” Nicodemus, though, gets a lot of meaning in just a couple sentences. These words are practically bursting with anticipation, the unspoken question pressing up against that last period: “Who are you, Jesus?”

Jesus knows that this is what’s really on Nicodemus’s mind and gives one of the most important answers that anyone has ever heard:

“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3:13-15.)

Nicodemus was probably trying to be polite by saying that Jesus “came from God” (that is, he was essentially a godly man) but Jesus’ response showed Nicodemus that he didn’t know how right that was – Jesus claimed to be from heaven!  Then, he went on to make a couple of Scripture references Nicodemus must have been very familiar with: the Moses story about God bringing healing to his people (Numbers 21:2-9); and the title Son of Man (see Daniel 7 for example). The way Jesus said all this, it should have been clear to Nicodemus that Jesus was talking about himself being lifted up for the salvation of God’s people, himself being the majestic Son of Man from the heavenly throne room.  These are audacious claims that no Jewish person in his right mind would make in front of someone like Nicodemus, a religious man and one of society’s leaders.

Today, if we were to read an article about some celebrity and they made a similar claim we’d probably think they were pulling a publicity stunt. But what if the way they lived the rest of their lives proved their claims to be true? That’s what Jesus did. Nicodemus saw that and it changed him forever, and he wasn’t ashamed if the world knew it. You see, at the end of Jesus’ life it was Nicodemus who stepped forward to help his friend Joseph take Jesus’ body from the cross and place it in a tomb. Nicodemus identified himself in front of everyone that he was Jesus’ man.

And on the third day Jesus rose.

His claim wasn’t so outrageous any more.

He was who he said he was.

Celebrate celebrities? I suggest we celebrate the One whose life we should really want to know about, the One who offers us the same life, a life abundant beyond our imaginations. (John 10:10.)

Questions to Consider

Why is it easier to pour our attention into the lives of celebrities (actors, sports stars, singers, politicians, whoever) than Jesus?

What can you do to celebrate Jesus as much as some people celebrate their favorite celebrity?

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13 Responses to Celebrity Gossip!

  1. Aimee Byrd says:

    Great article. Tim. It really made me think about haw we are wired to worship. I think that is why we deflect to worshipping people. I’ll have to check out your video clip, but it must seem crazy to celebrities when they are worshipped (except for the narcissistic ones that their professions attract). As to your question, it is easier to worship someone that has no expectations of us in return. If we worship our Creator and Savior, we need to submit to the truth not only about who he is, but the reality of who we are as well.

    • Tim says:

      Worshipping someone who has no expectations of us – that is a great insight Aimee, as it points out just how empty the worship is in the first place, doesn’t it?

      • Mary Anne says:

        “Wired to worship”—C.S. Lewis had some words on that (what didn’t the man have words for, bless him?) in one of his letters: “What my stories do is to liberate – to free from inhibitions – a spontaneous impulse to serve and adore, to have a ‘dearest dread,’ which the modern world starves, or diverts to film stars, crooners, and athletes.” We’ve all felt it, haven’t we? Even the language is revealing, the way a teen girl (or a much older one, pointing at myself here, wink wink) will say something like, “If [insert actor’s name here] so much as looked at me I’d DIE!” There’s that coupling of fear and adoration that Lewis talking about. And the adoration would somehow be less if the fear were not there—almost the way I feel about how a tiger would be much less beautiful if it were not dangerous. Or a lion, for that matter. 😉

      • Tim says:

        “the adoration would somehow be less if the fear were not there”

        Wonderful observation, MA!

  2. janehinrichs says:

    I wonder if “worship” was a word understood more in our society if people would see that the obsession with celebrities is a form of worship? You could also say this deals with people’s obsession with money too. If it was identified as worship to them and they realized this truth, would they change?

    • Tim says:

      Right, Jane. There are so many idols we set up to worship in our lives, whether celebrities or money or success or whatever. Isaiah is clear that they all topple over sooner or later.

  3. Jeannie says:

    This was really thought-provoking, and I liked the comment above about us being wired to worship — someone or something WILL receive our worship no matter what. After watching the video I was struck by the funny side of it all, imagining if we treated people from the Bible this way: “David: has he had ‘work done’ or not?” “Exclusive: Mary showing baby bump.” “James and John: who’s REALLY Jesus’ favourite?” I feel a youth group skit coming on here!

    • Tim says:

      If only I’d had that idea back when I was in youth leadership, Jeannie. Oh well, my son is now on staff with the youth group so maybe I can pass your skit idea along to him. They could do it like Entertainment Tonight!

  4. I actually made a conscious decision a few years back to stop reading celebrity gossip. I felt like it was filling my head with junk instead of good things. I also found myself idolizing the celebrities or their appearances or their lifestyles instead of thirsting after the things of God. It seriously made my life and my soul so much healthier.

    You make a lot of great points here. I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’s argument in Mere Christianity where he says that either Jesus is God, or He is crazy. It’s a little ludicrous for people to say that he was a “good guy” who taught some “good things,” because if you REALLY look at what he’s saying, then if he’s merely a “good guy,” he’s crazy. He either HAS to be the Son of God, or nuts.

    It’s interesting that people pour so much into celebrities and their lives. Their lives are attractive — more attractive than the way of God to most people. It seems easy — having all that money and fame. The easy life. God’s way is hard — taking up our cross and following him. There’s a cost to both lifestyles though. The cost for God’s way is seen in THIS life, but the blessings are for eternity. And the cost of idolizing celebrities is found in eternity as well.

    • Tim says:

      I was thinking of that passage from Lewis too, Rachel. He made a great point that the one thing we can’t say about Jesus is that he was merely a good person. If he’s not God, then he was lying or crazy, neither of which are goodness worth emulating. If he is God, then worship is the only proper response.

  5. I am so out of the loop about celebrities. When my youth kids talk about them I am so lost and confused so sometimes I research them just so I can talk to them and somehow find a way to bring Jesus into conversation regarding it. I never really cared much for celebrities, and the ones I have met in person (sometimes just by accident), I realized they were more interested in being treated like people than like gods. It must be difficult. The difference is that Jesus IS God and so if people worshiped Him, it was done right.

    Your second question is a bit difficult because really the only answer is to destroy all idols and worship Him alone. . .and that sometimes takes work because we idolize ourselves in the mix of things, so we need to give ourselves up. . .therefore: complete surrender.

    • Tim says:

      I’ve met famous people here and there too, Victoria, and discovered the same as you. They really just want to act and be treated like the rest of us. It’s a rare celebrity that I’ve seen who wants the attention for its own sake.

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