I grew up in north Glasgow in a family that can best be described, and I mean this most positively, as ‘average’. We were two hard working parents and three children in a solid bungalow, in a nice suburb, with pleasant neighbours and a good school. Although we never acquired the longhaired golden retriever I longed for, we did have a rabbit in a hutch out the back. Even in memory it’s wasn’t idyllic, but it was good.
Saturday nights in our house were better than other nights mostly because we got to stay up late, eat sweeties and watch TV. A Saturday was the day my father enjoyed the most due to his early morning bacon butty and ‘It’s a Knock Out’ on the telly at night. Television for dad was a luxury, I’m told one of the first things he ever watched was the moon landings in ’69, and so even by the 70’s when we had our own set, for dad it was and always would be special.
In those days it would have been impossible to imagine the way media and entertainment would revolutionise our households. Where once the fireplace was the heart and hearth of a room, we now gather round the set and Sky box. More significantly the little celebrity people speaking from with-in our Sky boxes have become our mentors, our heroes and some would even believe their friends. It’s a strange form of influence, intimate yet remote. A surreal form of relationship, as people we’ve never met determine how we think, even at times how we feel. We welcome them into our homes, they influence our children and yet we don’t know them.
One of the greatest responsibilities we can have in life is the ability to influence, to shape the thinking, beliefs and emotions of those around us. ‘Celebrities’ are simply humans that we admire. They are just as liable to be flawed as the rest of us and yet we emulate their behaviour, copy their clothing and follow their lead. In our minds we raise them above the mediocrity, the average, of our own lives. I heard recently of a teenage schoolgirl who, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, said ‘a celebrity’. Since when was celebrity a recognised occupation pitched against teaching or nursing or cab driving? The danger is we raise celebrity beyond what is achievable for humanity, creating pseudo-gods destined to fail us.
There is something inherently disturbing about a society that nurtures teenagers into believing that fame is a honourable ambition. Dangerously close to worship of self, it can surely only lead to dissatisfaction and loneliness.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
Romans 12:1-3 (MSG)
I suspect in heaven there will be no more ‘celebrities’, only the One who we will celebrate.
Director of National Ministries