I don't want to sound sanctimonious or preachy at all, but this is something that bothers me a great deal. There is a family here in Northwest Arkansas known for the large size of their family, the way they raise said family, and what they believe. I'm not going to name names, because you know who they are, and this post isn't about them. They have had a successful reality TV show on cable and have sold numerous books. All over America, people look to them as some sort of role model and example of how to live, even the vast majority don't wish to do all that they do. They also have been ridiculed them for their lifestyle as well as their beliefs. So you can imagine the firestorm that has erupted after wrongdoings of the eldest child and the subsequent actions of the family as a result have come to light. I don't want to get into a debate over all of the rights and wrongs of the situation, because it is a convoluted, horrible mess. Rather I want to address the turmoil that I imagine many of the family's fans and followers must be experiencing.
We live in a society where the words "Christian" and "Celebrity" don't often go together. We don't usually see Christians invited to the Today Show to talk about their faith, their style of parenting, or anything else. We're more likely to be offered the chance to watch a television program about the lives of mafia wives or spoiled rich girls than a Christian family trying to live today with Christian principles. So, when a family such as this or some other manages to break through into at least a part of the mainstream, we as Christians have a habit of glomming on to everything and anything they do with fervent ferocity. We are Mr. Darcy telling the world how we "ardently admire and love" them. We devour every little crumb marketed our direction from cookbooks to devotionals, DVDs to duck calls. They may even have a special Bible that they promote. We want to support our Christian brethren in their endeavors, and we also want to hold them up as an example to ourselves, our children, and the world as a whole. We place them on lofty pedestals and look up to them. Sometimes, perhaps, we even begin to idolize and worship them.
We all want to look up to someone. As children we look up to (or at least want to look up to) our parents, older siblings, teachers, and such. It is good to have worthy examples and mentors in our lives. It is very good indeed. However, we must remember that everyone is only human. We all make mistakes, some of them can be very bad indeed. The problem with pedestals is that they are of this world, and they crumble - sometimes taking others down with them.
Another problem with pedestals is that sometimes the people on them begin to be filled with pride. Pride is one of our greatest enemies and can lead us to do things like cover up sins and even crimes in order to save face and perhaps our lofty position, making the fall from the pedestal even more painful. Personally, I tend to think that people in this situation should adhere to James 3: 1 & 2
"My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things (NKJV)."I am not a fan of any reality TV show. I don't like them in the least. Just as we show the best part of our lives on Instagram and Facebook, so do they only show what is good television on any reality show. We don't really see how anyone lives, how they think, what internal struggles they are dealing with. Obviously they didn't have reality TV stars when James was writing this, but sadly what they see on television is sometimes the only example of Christianity many people are exposed to. It is not a task that should be taken lightly.
This post, however, is for those of us who do know and believe. Even though it's tempting to place others on pedestals and in a way worship them, we don't have to and we shouldn't. We have the perfect example of just who each and every single one of us should be looking up to in Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:5-8 says exactly the example we should follow.
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (NKJV)."It's ok to support other Christians. It's ok to like the things they do. I personally love to listen to Christian music, read Christian blogs, and books and all. Let us remember though that they are imperfect humans just like the rest of us. They will fall. Don't let your appreciation of them cause you to fall as well.
As usual, please feel free to share your thoughts.