Friday, April 09, 2010

Fame in a Gospel World

We all love to see our names in the big bright lights. Even Christians. Why? It’s part of the sin nature in all of us that has failed to be restrained.

It’s part of the self that wants to be known, even when it wants to be known as humble. There is a certain seduction to recognition from others. It can create a dangerous desire for more, and the dangers are rarely seen until it is too late.

Recently John Piper announced that was taking the rest of the year off due to “several species of pride” that he saw in his own life. He sees it. It would be hard to imagine how not to have it given his public image and speaking and writing. How can you not like yourself when everyone else does, even when you know the truth?

There are some for whom fame and credit is a stated goal. They do not achieve popularity by their contribution, but by their demand.

One of the most refreshing things to me is when I ask someone about using something they said or wrote, and they say, “Use it however you wish.” There’s no mention of, “Make sure my name is on it.” On the other hand there are those who insist that their name be used, even when they weren’t the original source.

Why does fame and credit matter in battle for the truth of the gospel?

Perhaps because self is as important than dissemination of the truth. We want the truth out, but we insist on making sure our name is attached to it.

I think that’s strange. I think it’s weird. I even think it’s wrong.

I have no problem with attribution. I have written enough academic papers to have been down that road a few times. And I have no problem with copyright for published materials.

It just seems strange to insist on having your name attached to something, and to complain when you don’t get it. It seems equally strange to many to shut your life down for seven months in hopes of avoiding it.

Some people are more concerned about getting their name out and getting credit for something than they are about anything else.

In a world of self-promotion that’s understandable. In the cause of Jesus, it’s inexcusable.

Only people interested in themselves care if their name is mentioned in the cause of truth.

Here’s the key thing to remember about life: Jesus died to make him famous and to gather for himself a redeemed people. He didn’t die to make us known to others.

So forget the fame, forget the credit, just preach Jesus.

Follow John the Baptizer who said, “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30).


Mark said...

"It’s part of the self that wants to be known, even when it wants to be known as humble."

Powerful statement - so true.

Jason said...

Challenging and helpful thoughts. Thank you.

That said, I wonder if you've broad brushed a bit on the attribution thing. It is indeed appropriate to expect proper attribution in our modern age where our works are considered property at law. It's even more significant here in Australia since compositions are legally copyright immediately upon creation (no registration/publication required).

I agree with the principle, but I sensed perhaps you were judging motives based on people's response. I'm not sure that's quite valid.

David Hosaflook, the Balkans said...

Well said. Thanks for a great reminder. Freely we have received. Freely we give.

Mark Ward said...

Well said, Larry. If you ever see my name in print (which, I doubt you will), you're free to use it. What is mine is thine (KJV talk :) ). Seriously, I think you're right on - too much fame, fortune, popularity and power is being sought among many in Christian circles. "By humility and the fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life." (Prov. 22:4)

Anonymous said...

I saw this post first!
Sam Hendrickson