June 21 05
I don't know a whole lot about the latest movie stars or musicians, but I do know something about the latest cults and religion trends around the world. I do know Tom Cruise because I used to watch his movies back in the 80s and 90s before I got saved. I wouldn't have known Katie Holmes from a hole in the wall, but now I know she is an actress. I only know that because she apparently has been converted to Scientology by "Mr. Scientology" himself, Tom Cruise. That title used to belong to John Travolta, but he has been relegated to second-rate Scientologist in the wake of Cruise's enormous zeal for his religion as of late.
L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, taught that aliens resolved their overpopulation problem by sending excess aliens to Earth in spaceships. Then, of course, human beings came along. Now, the alien souls (thetans) are living inside of people and this is what causes the problems we all have today. This is what Cruise believes and now, apparently, what Holmes believes. When asked if she is a Scientologist, Holmes said, "I have looked into it myself and I really like it and I think it's really wonderful."
Then you have other stars who are the new self-appointed spokespersons for Kabbalah. You have Madonna, Britney Spears, and Ashton Kutcher. I wouldn't know Kutcher from Katie Holmes, except that he is an outspoken follower of Kabbalah, a sort of Jewish mysticism. Kabbalah is more complex than that, and that is one reason why the Kabbalists are not too happy with Madonna and friends.
The Scientologists are happy with Cruise because their founder, Hubbard, sought out celebrities back in the 1950s as a way to give his teachings some credibility. He thought that if he could get some big names to follow his religion, he could get others to follow. Scientology is all about money, though, so that makes sense. The Kabbalists, on the other hand, take their religion very seriously and don't seem so concerned about money. They try to distance themselves from people like Madonna, whom they see as merely starting a fad.
All of this got me to thinking about something that happened back in the late 90s in the Christian community. I'm sure it still happens today, but it seemed to be especially popular five to ten years ago. Some of the Christian entertainment magazines were calling on Christians to pray that famous entertainers would get saved so they could then bring all their fans into Christianity. I remember one magazine, in particular, that took offense to such thinking. They wrote an article condemning the move to pray for Marilyn Manson. It's not that they wanted to not pray for him or others like him, but that we should be praying for all people, famous or not. Their thinking was that all people, not just Manson, are valuable to God.
I want to take that one step further. We have seen famous secular entertainers become Christians only to lose all their fans and have to start over. Typically, they drift into obscurity, even back into the secular world. I've seen secular musicians get saved and then put out a CD that is second-rate compared to their secular offerings. The music changes and the lyrics are "cheesy." The old fans either stop following because the music isn't what they had come to expect, or they just don't want to hear their favorite musician sing about Jesus. So, then this musician must try to sell himself to the Christian market, but they don't care because they have no idea who he used to be or the music he used to do. The road gets tough, so he drifts back into the secular scene and waters down his Christian message. Rarely does a big secular star have any impact on the world after converting to Christianity. Cat Stevens was able to convert to Islam and bring a bunch of people with him. He is selling lots of his old CDs now and making new fans in a new generation. But that's Islam. Christianity is different.
Why is Christianity different? How is it that Madonna and her friends can get lots of people to try out Kabbalah? How is it that Lance Armstrong can get millions of people, even Christians, to wear his bracelets to support his cause? How is it that Oprah Winfrey is the most influential person in America when it comes to spirituality? How is it that celebrities can convert people to their way of thinking, but there is no big celebrity out there who has made an impact for Christ?
The Bible says that God uses the weak and the humble to bring glory to Himself. Christianity isn't about glitter and gold, it's about reality and authenticity of heart. Christianity isn't about getting people to raise their hands to a watered-down Gospel, it's about one-on-one discipleship. Christians do their best work in the trenches, not in stadiums. God is glorified in the garbage dumps of Manila or the ghetto streets of New Orleans more so than by star-studded performances in Madison Square Garden. It's not that Christian celebrities can't make an impact -- some of them do; rather, we must not overlook the ordinary people all around us. Instead of praying for some big star to get saved and then do the evangelism work for us, perhaps we can pray for our neighbor and do the work ourselves. Instead of only participating in big outreaches, perhaps we can reach out to a stranger, one-on-one.