Hero Worship

July 13, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Over the past few weeks, there have been tragic stories in the American news outlets that have shown me some saddening things. While some of the saddening things are the stories themselves, others are the reactions of those who have watched the stories unfold.

The first story that made me start thinking about this was the sordid tale involving South Carolina governor Mark Sanford. Governor Sanford had a good, solid political career and a promising future. He was one of the GOP hopefuls for the presidency in 2012. Then, it all came crashing down as Governor Sanford’s sin found him out (Numbers 32:33). It was revealed that he had been having an affair with a former Argentinean news reporter. Governor Sanford cried and apologized to the people of South Carolina. Recently, it was reported that the governor had more than one affair and that none of the others were even hidden from his pastor. This is a tragedy on many levels. First, Governor Sanford’s sins were committed against God. He rebelled against the Lord and transgressed His law. He thumbed his nose at the sacrifice of Christ. Then, there are the sins against his wife and children. He has severely damaged the covenant vow he made with his wife (‘til death do us part!), and has strained his relationship with his four sons. Then there is the failure to be a responsible role model for not only his boys, but for many others in South Carolina. Mark Sanford is in a horrible situation and it will take time to mend all of the hurt he’s caused. Personally, I think that the governor should step down from his position. I believe this for a few reasons. One reason is because his main focus should be on mending his family. They should be his main focus after he repents of his sins and restores his relationship with God. Second, I don’t think he should be in a public office after doing the things that he’s done. John C. Calhoun wrote “the right of suffrage (electing officials) gives the people the power not only to choose their representatives, but to hold them responsible”. A related tragedy is the fact that actions like governor Sanford’s have become normal and even expected by politicians.

The next tragedy is the story of Steve McNair. Steve McNair is the former quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and was found dead in an apartment he was renting. McNair was shot four times while on his couch and next to his body was found another. On the floor next to him was the body of the 20-year-old waitress he had been dating. She had been shot once in the head. One of the problems with this is the fact that Mr. McNair was married with four kids. Again, the sins against God are the most tragic. God is holy, perfect, and righteous and has made every effort to reconcile their relationship with Him. There are the sins against his wife, children, and those of against the woman and her family. Another horrible thought is the fact that if Mr. McNair died in his sins, he is in hell and will be there for eternity. Many may be mad about this but it’s what the Bible says. It is my sincere hope that Mr. McNair was right with God before he died, but we won’t know until all is said and done.

The last tragedy that got me focused on this is the death of Michael Jackson. There are so many tragedies here that it’s mind-boggling. As always, the first is the sin against God. All of the sins that we commit are against God first. After this is the thought that Mr. Jackson, who was a Jehovah’s Witness that converted to Islam, isn’t born-again. Add to this the drugs, debt, and his court charges dealing with him being a pedophile and it’s a big mess.

When Michael Jackson died, it was all people talked about. Every news channel, many blogs, and most newspapers had huge sections of space devoted to his life, music, and tragic end. Some have camped outside his home “celebrating his life” while dancing and singing. It became the “where were you when JFK died” of this generation. Recently, they held a public memorial service for him at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. This service could only be attended by those who received tickets from a special lottery. The memorial was in a city that can’t afford it, in a state that can’t afford it, with over a million dollars of extra security and police involvement. Although this seems unwise to say the least, it isn’t what bothers me the most. While all of the media was focused on Michael Jackson, there was talk of North Korea launching missles. Also, our soldiers were dying in Afghanistan but they weren’t important. They were not useful to the media so they were ignored. What I see in all the drama, pomp, and circumstance surrounding all things Michael Jackson is something deeper – hero worship. The worship of Michael Jackson has lasted at least two weeks. The majority of things said about him have to do with the impact he made on the world and how great he was. It’s like he’s been separated from all of the odd and weird things in his life and absolved of all the sin and shame. Very few people spent any amount of time talking about these things and glossed over them because they just want to “remember the good things”. If that’s what you want to do, then it’s your choice, but would you be remembering the true man?

Some would argue, “Well, if you’re going to do this to Michael Jackson, then we can do it to you too”. You’re right. You could do this to me, and anyone else and the result would be the same. You would see that we are all sinners that will end up in hell if our sins are not paid for before we die. There is one thing that you may find different. If you compare my life to yours, or Michael Jackson’s, you may see that my sins are paid for. Granted, I don’t know that Michael Jackson didn’t cry out to God right before he fell to the floor and repent of his sins. I hope that he did, but I don’t know. As far as talking about my whole life, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I was a sinful man and I’m still a sinful man. There is one difference. I have repented of my sins and put my faith completely and totally in Jesus Christ to save my from God’s wrath. I don’t revel in my sin but I do revel in the God that saved me from them when he didn’t have to. Through grace by faith alone I have been spared from God’s wrath to come.

Now, before you see this as a tirade against Michael Jackson, it’s not. He’s not the only one that this happens to. Movie stars like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and others are worshipped like “gods”. They get paid millions of dollars a film to pretend and play like they’re someone else. They are followed around by paparazzi and plasterd all over newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. For what? They are just sinful men and women like the rest of us. We have sports stars like Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tom Brady who are treated the same way. They are paid millions of dollars a year to put a ball through a metal hoop, hit a ball with a stick, drive a car in circles, or throw an inflated pigskin a hundred yards down field. They are revered and looked up to for their talent. So what? Like the rest of us, they are sinful men and women. I may catch some flack for saying this, but I don’t think that anyone is worth that much money. I don’t care what sport you play or how well you do it, you’re not worth that much money (in a way, you’re worth more, but not in a materialistic way). Amazingly, if everyone stopped making movies or playing sports professionally, life would go on.

It’s not just entertainers though. Politicians have become heroes that Americans worship. From Ronald Regan to Bill Clinton, politicians have become celebrities as well. For evidence of this, you don’t have to look any further than our current president. Barack Obama has been and still is worshipped by a large number of people. He is constantly all over the news and puts himself in the spotlight as much as possible. Even though he has poor judgment, poor speaking skills, and an ungodly, wicked agenda; people have hailed him as “The Messiah”. And he believes them.

And this is where hero worship becomes dangerous. The Bible makes it clear that we are to worship no man. When Cornelius saw Peter at his door, he bowed down to worship him (Acts 10:25). Peter quickly responded, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” When Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra, Lyconia, and Derbe (Acts 14:12-15) they were worshipped as Zeus and Hermes (to the point of offering sacrifices!) because Paul healed a man that had never walked. Paul and Barnabas immediately stopped the crowd and told them that they were “of the same nature” as the would-be worshippers. Not only are we not supposed to worship man; we are not to worship angels either. In the book of Revelation, John is told twice by an angel that they are not to be worshipped but that they are fellow servants with all those who serve the Lord.

Our worship is to be reserved for God alone. In Romans 1, Paul talks about those who know God but “do not honor Him as God or give thanks”. These people have become “futile in their speculations” and their “foolish hearts are darkened”. How many of those people dwell in America today? We profess God with our lips but our hearts are far from Him (Matt 15:8). It seems that we spend just as much time and energy worshipping fallen men and women that we have elevated as we do rejecting that God of the universe who measures the universe with the span of His hand. God is the only One that deserves our worship and praise and He is jealous about it. In Isaiah 42:8, God says that He will not give His glory to another. How far have we drifted when we will praise actors, sports figures, and politicians for their miniscule contributions; and ignore, or even worse rail against, God who has given us everything?

I am not against talent. If you have a talent, then use it to glorify God. I’m also not against people making money (although I think we’re paying way too much to be entertained). If you can use your talent to glorify God and make money that’s great. But, I don’t care how well you pretend to be someone else, how accurately you kick a soccer ball, or how well the Rasmussen polls portray you; you are just another one of many sinful men and women living on this planet. And while I may admire your talents (if you have any), I will not worship you or exalt you. You don’t deserve it. Only God does…

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