I think we might live in a generation obsessed with fame.
I have spent many years in Los Angeles, a place where daily as I walk down the street I am confronted with a barrage of flashing billboards covered with beautiful faces with promises of becoming the next "big thing".
A place where I have spent the last five years working towards becoming an actor finding myself in countless conversations, in auditions, on set, at restaurants, even church, about finding that "big break" that will finally bring the attention we came here find.
I have spent time with famous people, while watching adoring fans fawn uncontrollably, hoping for pictures and autographs. I have watched as paparazzi risk their lives running in front of traffic just to get a glimpse of a passing "star".
Even beyond my city, as I open my laptop or turn on my phone, I am faced with the realization that we are a generation obsessed with fame, and popularity, counting our worth by the numbers on a screen as we spend hours and days crafting the image we present to the digital world in hopes of attracting more people to "follow" "like" and "share" us, every click serving as the fix for the high we so desperately long to validate the identity we are building for ourselves.
And If I'm being completely honest, I want it, all of it. I want people to think I'm a big deal, someone worth jumping in front of traffic for a glimpse of, or worthy of a billboard. I want the satisfaction that my life is important enough to obsess over, and the knowledge that I am someone important.
And the thing is, I get it, in a world that can so often tear us apart, and leave us feeling beaten up, insecure, unimportant, and unseen, of course it would be our natural inclination to find approval in a place that offers us a chance at validation, as temporary and hollow as it is. We look at our screens and magazines and see everything we don't have but long to be, put together, taken care of, adored, validated, respected, loved.
But recently as I studied arguably to most famous person in all of human history Jesus-- I found something very surprising. I found a man, who called himself "humble and meek". A man who claimed to be God incarnate, preforming inexplicable miracles, but would do so hesitantly because of a crowd saying "It's not my time". A man who after bringing someone back to life, told them to "tell no one" and man who, when being in the middle of a roaring crowd would disappear to be alone. A man who treated everyone regardless of title, sex or age, with the same respect and dignity. A man who chose to spend most of his time not on a stage, but eating, talking, and living with the poor, needy, dirty, broken, and outcast.
I was shocked, and gently stunned. The most influential person in history was the most humble.
After coming to this realization I saw how different the priorities of ours are to that of Jesus' (God's).
Even the ones who call themselves followers of his-- daily I watch as Christian bloggers relentlessly vie and scheme for more hits and followers, while christian figures tout pictures of themselves with pop stars, I spectate as christian companies use Jesus as a marketing tool to sell more shirts, movies and music, while popular pastors soak up attention like rock stars, as they stand in bright lights in front of big screens and thumping music. And all of it makes we wonder, if Jesus were here today, where would he actually be found?
I remember walking into a charity event being put on by my church at the time. It was being held at one of the nicest hotels in Hollywood, and was meant to raise money for the needy. As the I passed through the doors past all of the shiny people into the event, there in front of the stage was an area roped off with velvet barriers, complete with bottle service, and comfortable furniture, it was the area reserved for VIP's and celebrities. I watched as the pretty and rich were ushered in, while the rest of us looked on. Part of me wanted in, wanted to feel the pleasure of being seen as someone important enough separated from the "normals". But then another part of me wondered if Jesus had showed up that night, would he have made it in? My guess is no, my guess is that even if he could've he would have chosen to spend his time with those who might never be rich or important enough to be in what the world considers the VIP area. In fact I wonder if he would have been there at all, or perhaps more likely he would have been on the streets with the homeless who wouldn't have even made it inside.
So I have come to the conclusion that I don't think God cares about celebrities, he cares about people. Don't get me wrong, I think fame can be used for good, and popularity for a positive effect, but more often than not, we create it into an idol to be worshiped instead of a tool to be used; and in the end the only thing God cares about is our hearts.
What would it look like instead of working to build more popularity or our "online presence", we worked towards kindness? How would we change if we put a little less effort into racking up accomplishments, and instead made moral decisions when no one is watching and "likes" aren't a possibility? What would it look like if instead of trying so hard to get into to be considered a VIP, we make effort to make those around us the very important people? Could it be that perhaps we would begin to find true validation in who we were created to be and not the facade we are trying to create?
I think there's a certain freedom to be found in the truth that the creator of the universe doesn't care about your status, bank account, accomplishments, or popularity but instead simply cares about you. That his main concern isn't your outward appearance, but instead the condition of your heart.
And while, another "like", and a new line on a resume is nice-- how beautiful is it to know that regardless of anything you can do, the creator of the universe adores you, to the point of giving his life for you? A realization of this magnitude will forever outweigh any fading accolade from this world.
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