Today our Prime Minister, David Cameron, proclaimed that Britain is a Christian country, and that the Anglican church should spearhead a revival of Christian morality. These statements are brave and almost unprecedented from a PM in living memory.
While many Christians are celebrating his bravery some are already engaging in friendly fire, picking holes in his “brand” of Christianity and questioning his sincerity.
This has led me to think about many famous politicians, pop stars and celebrities that have openly made statements about their faith, who have then gone on to be criticised by Christians. It seems our response to famous people’s statements of faith is sorely lacking in grace and thoughtfulness.
1. People think Fame equals Spiritual Maturity. It seems that some think that because someone is famous they will automatically be a mature Christian. That leaders in life would naturally be leaders in Church. Has anyone thought that if that famous Christian came to their church, they would probably need the new believers course, or have some basic questions to learn about. These people are gently trying to bring their sapling faith into their sphere of influence like everyone else in a church. Cut them some slack theologically.
2. People think “My Brand of Christian is THE REAL one.” It is in moments like these that we realise why we are called PROTEST-ants. We protest endlessly about people who don’t share our exact “take” on things. It reveals the immature divisions in Church. Just because he doesn’t dance in worship, immediately denounce pre-marital sex, tongue talk, or sound like a rabid evangelist, we criticise… as if the sweet baptist chap who is our neighbour is not going to heaven because he’s not quite like you! We will feel such fools in heaven when we ALL realise how dodgy parts of our theology was!
3. People think all should “Treat their jobs like Pulpits”. As if Cameron’s going to give an altar call in Prime Ministers Question time! Get real! Like Daniel and Joseph tried to bring God influence to their ungodly worlds through wisdom, so can every pop star, politician, celeb … but in a measured way, otherwise their influence simply ceases to exist. (All influence is given and earned…not imposed) Their jobs are like yours; there is protocol.
4. Cranky Christians love bold statements, not edgy Questions. We love bold statements of faith, and struggle with honest questions. What about the gay issue, creation, single parenthood, sex outside of marriage. These questions would not give Jesus a sleepless night and every young Christian has the right to ask them, even publicly. It’s part of the journey. Try not to sound cranky when they’re raised!
5. People think Political statements won’t bring revival. I have some sympathy with this, knowing that when the Church is snuggled too close to the State, it can dis-empower genuine Spirit filled Church. Having said that, when a believer enters a sphere of influence, and seeks to bring some impact, we should still thank God! Cameron is not trying to become the spiritual leader of the country by mentioning Christianity. But he IS opening a small door for Christian leaders to use for revival and reformation. We should stop quibbling over theology … and let’s use this season!
6. Some People expect SIN to be denounced in every interview. I have seen time and again famous people have to dodge some of the difficult subjects. We need to understand that many media interviewers are always trying to goad Christians into speaking about things like homosexuality, because the interviewer knows that if he can make the Christian sound cranky, it will be a “good” interview (for his ratings!). Once, when I was being interviewed about something entirely unrelated, the BBC interviewer was determined to ask me about my beliefs on homosexuality, which I knew would simply dis-rail everything I wanted to say. So I simply responded “We LOVE Homosexuals in our church, and I want them ALL to come to my Church” (which is one side of the truth!). Wide eyed, the interviewer was lost for words. And we got on with what I’d actually come to talk about! Don’t expect full theological debates on sin on TV. Some Christians in media are fighting to steer away from being portrayed as cranks…which the media love to do! (Of course there are other moments when we should indeed wade into the debates on these things).
7. Perhaps, Some Britons actually have issues with success & authority. I actually wonder if our desire to pull apart famous Christians at times, comes from the national hobby of tearing down authority figures, evident in some of our society. The same, defensive insecurities fill Christians, who cleverly hide their lack of grace behind theological protests.
8. People just love “kicking others”. No-one is into friendly fire like the Church. We tear down pop stars who fail morally, or who don’t call down hell fire on Homosexuals. Let’s learn to LOVE EVERY brand of Christianity .. and learn from them all. Get some humility, and grace, because Jesus said “They will know you are my disciples, by your LOVE”.
9. It easier to criticise than pray. If someone’s been brave enough to mention the “C” word in the public setting (You know how hard that can be in the office, let alone the media!), stop picking holes in their statements…PRAY FOR THEM! They are your brother, sister..or at least are TRYING to be!
10. Finally, I have seen so many pop stars, celebrities and politicians simply give up on their faith, because after trying to raise the subject of Christianity, or even failing in some way, criticism lays into them in the form of theological attacks, hate mail and ridicule…BUT NOT from the media, or from the “world”…. Can you guess WHO actually bashes the faith out of them?…
I was in Westminster recently where one MP told me of another whose Christian faith had been so attacked that it left him a shell of his former self. The source of the destruction?…..Christians. Shame on us.