The Limits of Fame


There is something about celebrity that gets our attention. Of course, there are entire industries in America that create this constant buzz about people that “they” say are famous. Billions of dollars are spent on memorabilia and trinkets. Everything from Elvis painted on black velvet, to key rings featuring the next big bubblegum boy band can be had for a price. And the celebrity hysteria can become an obsession for some people… fan and celebrity alike. Reality TV has resurrected many a dead career in recent years. Just look at Ozzy Osbourne or Gene Simmons (if you can). And do I need to even mention Charlie Sheen?

We tend to look at these lives that are lived in the public eye (often with riches to boot) and envy them. But if anything, we ought to pause and consider that fame is a cruel disease for many of those who get caught in the pursuit of it. Celebrities rarely survive fame unscathed. And fame alone is very unsatisfying for many of those who seek it.

Maybe we should not look so much to the outward appearances of those playing the fame game. God taught this lesson in a unique way to the prophet/priest Samuel. In 1 Samuel 16, we have a record of God’s choice for a new king in Israel. He sends Samuel to Bethlehem, to the household of Jesse, and informs him that one of Jesse’s sons will be the new king. This was an interesting moment because Jesse had 8 fine sons. When Samuel sees the oldest, Eliab,he is impressed with him. He was tall, articulate, and handsome… just what you need in a king! But God warned Samuel that there was more to the picture: But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Ultimately God would choose the youngest of Jesse’s sons, David – a mere shepherd boy, to be the next king of Israel. And he did so not just on the basis of anything outward. This was a humble shepherd boy. God chose him because David was a man after God’s own heart. That is something no level of fame or fortune can achieve for you. But it is the most important thing.

This coming Sunday at the McCoy campus, we are going to be looking at the “Idol of Fame” and the problem of celebrity. We’ll look at how Jesus handled a celebrity that came to talk with Him. And hopefully, we will be able to balance out our own tendencies to be impressed more with outward achievements than with the place that God values most: the heart.