You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.

Exodus 20:3-5a

I’ve wrestled for years with the whole notion of Christian celebrity. What’s that about, anyway? Honoring those who lead is one thing, idolizing them is another thing altogether.

When we treat authors and pastors and speakers as though they’re part of an elite group simply because they have huge platforms, we’ve lost sight of something Jesus highly values and we’ve replaced it with something our secular culture obsesses over.

Jesus said that if you want to be great in His Kingdom, love and serve others. If you want to be something, be willing to be nothing from the world’s perspective. If you want to live a full, rich and satisfying life, give generously to others as though you had an endless supply to draw from. If you want to be healed, tend to the wounds of others. This is an upside-down kingdom where to be last is to be first, to be humble is to be exalted, and to suffer well is to reflect the very glory of God.

Recently on Middays with Susie Larson, I spoke with author and pastor Chris Nye about our relentless pursuit of more; more fame, more wealth, and more power. He suggests that not all growth is God. Some churches, ministries, and organizations are large not because God’s hand is upon them but because of greed, ambition, and love of power. He further shared that not all small organizations, churches, and ministries are so because God’s hand is not upon them. He cautions that we need to be careful about attributing all growth to God. What if Jesus is after a different kind of growth?

Chris writes:

“Could God be up to something in the unexplored margins of our society? Could the kingdom He is building be outside the central places of power? The pursuit of Scripture, the pursuit of going lower and decreasing our platforms and opinions and bank accounts might hold some deeper biblical ground than we think.”

When some of John the Baptist’s followers decided to follow Jesus, John didn’t flinch. He knew he needed to decrease that Jesus might increase. Imagine such a counter-cultural mindset in our day! And what did Jesus say of John the Baptist? There was no greater man born on the earth than this man.

In his book, Less of More, Chris Nye writes of John the Baptist:

“The voice of the wilderness is not a voice of innovation, excellence, and power. He is not a thought leader or a cultural entrepreneur. He doesn’t have good ideas. Rather, he is a person of humility, obscurity, and obedience. This voice is not one of upward mobility but of downward mobility. What does this mean? Perhaps this means we should be suspicious of anything making us look bigger than we actually are. It could also mean we do not need to do as much as we think we should. Because how can Jesus be big if we are flexing our muscles? And how can He do something when we’re already doing it in His place?”

Jesus appointed us to bear fruit, not fame.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:16-17

Consider the promise Jesus attached to the fruit-bearing life. Ask in My Name, and it will be given to you.

What if the growth Jesus is looking for, is not of this world? What if we instead grew in depth, conviction, character and love? What if we walked so intimately with God that when we laid hands on the sick like Jesus did, they actually recovered? What if the kind of growth God is after in us is holiness?

Father,

Forgive us for our constant striving for attention and posturing for fame.
We want to be known for knowing You.
Grow Your likeness in us. Raise up a new standard within us.
Work wonders through us. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

Not all growth is God

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