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"Jesus Christ Superstar"

We live in an age that venerates the sensational. Whenever I turn on the news I sometime think I’m watching a primetime drama rather than a credible outlet of information. Their intention is to generate a sensation of “shock and awe.” Then there are the movies. Production budgets are higher than ever. Hundreds of millions are spent to achieve the same outcome, to wow the audience. So, in this age of the amazing and spectacular, is it any wonder that churches and Christians are joining the party?

My first encounter with this trend in Christian sensationalism was in the early 1990’s. The Power Team! This muscle-bound squad would vault around on stage demonstrating bouts of “super physical strength.” They would hype up the crowd by tearing a phonebook in half while screaming “I LOOOOOOOVE JESUUUUUUUUS!” While that their intentions were likely good (they were crediting God with their strength), the focus of the crowd was not on the power of God in salvation but on the tremendous feats of strength that these men displayed. People came to see the Power Team perform, not to learn about God. For me it was entertainment. Despite what might have been their intention, God was only a momentary and secondary thought after the “show.”

The Power Team was merely catering to our “power-hungry” culture. Being the vain little creatures that we are, we dream of greatness. We’re not satisfied with what we deem to be mundane and ordinary. As a result, when Christians “feel” the call to ministry, too often visions of sugar plum fairies begin to dance in their heads. They can almost see the crowds and feel the warmth of bright lights in a huge arena as they walk on stage to a multitude of adoring followers chanting and swaying to “Shine, Jesus Shine.” Surely this is how people responded to Jesus, right?

If I remember the accounts of the Gospels correctly, the reactions from crowds that Jesus encountered were quite different. Yes, Jesus did perform spectacular signs. Yet, He followed that up with a message that drove most of the crowds away. Shortly after the feeding of the 5000, Jesus said “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” As a result of this proclamation, all but the twelve disciples left Him. The people thought His message was just too harsh. This prompted Christ to ask the disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Can you imagine a great televangelist today uttering such words? Of course not! How could he maintain his superstar status with no followers?

Another temptation of Christians who sense a calling is to renounce all worldly possessions, go overseas and become missionaries. Many Christians think of being a missionary as glamorous – the kind of life worthy of “Indiana Jones.” Who wouldn’t want to travel to exotic locations, encountering danger at every turn? Of course, when they arrive and begin their adventure they see that the job mostly entails digging ditches, dealing with governmental red tape and developing seemingly mundane relationships with the locals. While this is an office to which God calls some people, it shouldn’t become an opportunity for boasting, “Hey look at me! I’m a super awesome missionary!”

By now you might be asking, “If I’m not called to be a Gospel superstar or an adventurous missionary, then what should I do?” Well, I would suggest a simple answer: Serve God, serve His Church and proclaim the good news right where you are. It may not be glamorous by worldly standards but there’s nothing wrong with the mundane. In our age of sensationalism, we tend to exalt the extraordinary and devalue the simple. We think that anything ordinary is almost less holy or less worthy. God forbid that I work a 9 to 5 job, live a modest life before God and be a humble and quiet servant. However, the Apostle Paul admonished us to do that very thing in 1 Thessalonians 4:11, “…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you…”

I can hear some of you say, “Ok, Ok…. I get it. Live quiet and peacefully before men. But that doesn’t change the fact that I want to be great in the kingdom.” That is true. There’s nothing wrong with greatness. But that begs the question: “What is your definition of greatness?” If it is true greatness you seek simply follow these words of Christ: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” This should make us think, “Hmmm… Does this mean I must consider the needs of my brother before I consider purchasing my own pearly white Gospel tour bus?” Yea… Probably.

Greatness is not bright lights, exotic locations, chants from adoring fans, or danger at every turn. No. Greatness is being the servant of all. After all, didn’t Jesus wash the feet of stinky fishermen and despised tax-collectors? Wow, that took greatness!

- Jordan McGehee