A few years ago while driving through Yakima, Washington I came across a large building on the corner of an intersection that had painted on the side of the building “The world-wide headquarters” of a certain evangelist whose name was spelled in letters approximately 10 feet high. At the bottom was written in letters almost to small to read from the road an addendum that said, “spreading the message of Jesus Christ”. That seemed fairly ironic to me.
I imagine most people who engage in Twitter have had notifications pop up that they now have new “followers”. It is often gratifying to know someone is following you….except when you find that the follower is an author and conference speaker who likely had a bot follow you so that you will follow them to increase their follower numbers. This is a normal part of the twitter game. However when the twitter account belongs to a Christian who’s account profile states that he is founder, author, speaker, owner….etc….”to the glory of Christ.” it becomes relatively ironic. Facebook pages in which a ministry leader’s photo and biography overshadow the message they seem to proclaim is ironic. A Pastor who has a website devoted to himself is ironic.
The Bible has a lot to say about self-promotion….and most of it not particularly good. “Never be wise in your own eyes…” Romans 12:16 and “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” Matthew 20:26 among many. Perhaps one of the most pertinent for most Christians“Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not…” in Jeremiah 45:5. The context is most important here because it is being addressed to Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch in which he is warned that it will be dangerous for him to be recognized since he will be a “prize of war.”
The celebrity culture of the Christian culture seems to mimic the cult of celebrity of the main culture. For Christians this is the highest of ironies since instead of mimicking the culture we are called to be salt and light to the culture. The thing that’s interesting is in the passage in Matthew 20 cited above Jesus warned his disciples specifically against the desire for this kind of recognition, even if it’s to spread the good news. It is important to spread the message of the gospel and to make disciples…but it might be good to make sure we are making disciples of Jesus….and not of ourselves. We follow a leader who gave his life for us….who “had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.” To self-promote in following Jesus is the highest of all ironies. Instead of self-promoting we trust that it is “God who lifts one up and sets down another.” We desire to lift up Jesus so that he is the one others look at and admire because he is the one who is worthy. The truest irony is that he who is worthy gave himself for us….that is what is worth truly promoting.