Celebrity or Servant?
Read This Week: 2 Corinthians 11
But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super-apostles” who teach such things. I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way. If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying. – 2 Corinthians 11:5-6, 30-31 NIV
Celebrity status is a pervasive thing in our culture and has been since the beginning of time. From athletes to actors to Instagram influencers, people seem to love and worship celebrities. Unfortunately, this also exists in the Christian community. Ministers paid and volunteer can be excessively honored, praised at an embarrassing level, and even worshipped above Jesus for their skills, talents, and knowledge.
The infatuation with celebrities makes sense. By human standards, it is much more stimulating to have and be a hero minister than a mere helper. Settling for the role of a servant seems boring when we can be a superstar. Yet, servants of Jesus are exactly what God calls us to be. His desire for those who serve Him is a pure and willing heart, not an oversized ego and harmful ambition.
Paul was addressing this same issue in 2 Corinthians 11. The people had become enamored with the celebrity apostles in Corinth. They loved their charisma, speaking ability, and supposed wisdom, but at the same time, were misled by their false teachings about Christ. The outcome of this led to criticizing and comparing Paul to these super-apostles and accusing him of being an unskilled speaker and lacking knowledge.
Broken over their celebrity infatuation and listening to false claims about Jesus, Paul does not retaliate by comparing notes to the super-apostles or trying to convince them of his status. He identifies himself as a real servant of Jesus by listing evidence, not of his victories and awesomeness, but his hardships suffered. He, and not the celebrities, showed the marks of a servant of Christ in his sufferings.
By pointing to his stories of hardships for the gospel, Paul teaches them that our status as followers of Jesus lies in our service to Him no matter what it brings. Our celebrity status only exists in knowing God and having the privilege of being used for His glory, even if that means we suffer. Paul wrote this in verses 30-31 about his notoriety and accomplishments:
“If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, is worthy of eternal praise.”
Paul wanted to tell of his weakness because that is where the strength of God touches the needs of people. Showing them how weak he was, demonstrated how strong and big God is. As a servant of Christ, he was intent on showing God to people through his life instead of showing off.
May we not get caught up in Christian celebrity and miss Jesus. May we not forget that God called us to be servants, people whom God has gifted in unique ways, and with his help in the application of our gifts, we can have an eternal impact in the world and be part of some pretty amazing things for His glory.
God gave me something this week from 2 Corinthians 11 verse 2. God will not take second place to anything. In fact, He will not share you with any other teachings. What that means to me is to always receive God’s message through my pastors, and we must walk in our salvation after we’ve received it.
That’s a strong point, Jeri. God will not take second place. The very nature of his eternality, holiness, and divinity make Him preeminent and supreme above everything else. That’s why we can trust Him, have faith and confidence in Him, and follow His word. His truth is coming from a seat of power and totality and that is something we can base our lives on.
Authenticity is so important to most people and when investing your time in a relationship with someone, you want them to be real, not a poser.
Sometimes it is hard to discern the truth, to separate the real from the fake. This is why God gave us the Bible, so we can learn what is true, good and profitable. One of the many Benifits of being a Christian, is that we have direct access to God personally. That we can ask God questions, listen for answers and receive good, accurate and true counsel from God.
Personally, I greatly appreciate authenticity and I am so grateful that I have access to the Bible and to God when I need the truth.
I greatly appreciate authenticity as well, Ken. I agree that God and His word set the standard for transparency and truth for us to know and follow in our own lives. The authentic relationship that we enjoy with God through Christ is a template for us in our human relationships. It is real not fake and that’s what He calls us to be.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and spiritual Mothers out there! I know God is very thankful for all the mothers who put Him first and love and teach others the ways of the Lord. Keep up the good work for the family of God and stay faithful to God no matter what! He is faithful and will help you through.
I just love Paul and his love for God and to others. He is so faithful to God no matter what people did to him or what they said. He knew who he was as a child of God, what his purpose was and he loved people enough to tell them the truth. He hoped they loved God enough to do the right thing.
He knew God was a jealous God. He knew first-hand because of his relationship with the Father. He knew if they would put Him first, honor Him, spend time with Him, read the bible and learn the truth, and love Him with their whole heart, no one could lead them away and influence them to believe any lies. He knew they wouldn’t be tempted to do anything that would not be pleasing to the Father. I am thankful to God for Paul teaching us what a good spiritual father looks like.
I really appreciate this post, Heidi. What I take away from it and from this passage is that I want the Lord to strengthen my heart, confidence in Him, and resolve to be faithful to God no matter what people do to me or what they say about me. It is so difficult sometimes but in God’s power, we can do it just like Paul did.