Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Cult of Personality - Part 10

In this final installment of The Cult of Personality I suggest some ways out of the current malaise. In the final analysis we have to decide whether we will take the biblical message seriously or edit it to fit our own pre-conceived notions of reality. Is Christianity supernatural or is it just another expression of human religiosity that makes no transcendent claims for the person of Jesus and the scriptures? This is the ultimate dividing line today and determines how seriously we view the problem I have been writing about and the proposed solution. At the very least I hope I have provided some food for thought. Now it is time to turn my attention to some other writing projects in the New Year.

The conclusion of The Cult of Personality...

The antidote to the cult of personality is a firm grasp of the biblical message. We are fools if we put our hope in men, even the very best of men. Our hope must be in the Lord alone. Everyone says this but afterwards many turn around and line up behind their heroes. Only the Lord can build the church precious stone upon precious stone because only he has the power of the new birth and only he is able to bring sinners to himself. It does not matter how well organized we are, or how many books we have published. or blogs we write, what matters is that we do our best and then wait on God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. At the end of the day it is not our cleverness that will win the battle. Nor is it the power of our personalities. The pervasive effects of sin are only reversed when God acts in saving power. We do not need more conferences and pep-rallies, we need more seasons of prayer, the bravery to step outside of our comfort zones, stick-to-itiveness in the face of opposition, and patience that waits on the Lord knowing that he is never in a hurry. It is not about brand names but about the name of Jesus. No one has a corner on the truth, and no church leader speaks exclusively for God, and no one speaks for God at all unless they reflect what is found in the scriptures. We do not need more clones or followers but workers. We need to know where God has clearly spoken in scripture and where he has not, and we need to make much of Jesus as the only one who can do us any ultimate good.

In short, we need balance. There is a fine balance between honoring our leaders but not treating them  as if they are infallible. We need to train, plan, and execute our plans without forgetting that it is God who works in us according to his good pleasure. We need to broaden our horizons and see that God works in many different ways through many different people. He is not beholden to one particular group or way of doing things. He works through all sorts of different human vessels to accomplish his purposes. Many times he delights to use those who are weak and foolish in the eyes of the world to confound the strong, the wise and the attractive.

We are called to be faithful first and foremost, not successful. But again, it is too often the “successful” by the measure of the world who are paraded around and we are inundated with their ideas while the real heroes of the faith continue to do the work that God has called them to do without fanfare or applause. For all the big talk of evangelical power and influence the truth is that in Canada we are a small and shrinking segment of the population. The more we imitate the world, the more we undercut our message. The world is “star” obsessed – movie stars, athletes, musicians, political, business and media stars. Their every move is tracked, they are followed on Twitter and Facebook, they are quoted in magazines and on the evening news. But their fame is fleeting and rarely do they possess the wisdom to lead anyone. It is all about appearances, making the right impression, gathering a crowd, living in the moment.

As Christians we are called to resemble Jesus who was not fooled by outward appearances but was deeply concerned about matters of the heart. He did the right thing and was not merely concerned about making the right impression. When he gathered a crowd he told them the truth whether they liked it or not, and though he walked with God on earth in the days of his ministry, he lived in light of eternity. He is our role model and star! The irony is that the more we are like him and different from our “star” obsessed culture, the more we have something substantial to say and the more people will actually sit up and take notice. The hard truth is that the best of us has little to offer in ourselves. There is no sense pretending otherwise. It is far better to acknowledge our bankruptcy and make much of Christ. The cult of personality must go! Or in the words of John the Baptist – “Jesus must become greater and I must become less” (John 3:30).


Spencer Haygood said...


Thanks so much for this series on the Cult of Personality. So deeply embedded in so many churches here in the southern U.S.

Blessings my friend,

Kirk Wellum said...


Thank you for your comment. I trust you are well. Have a wonderful year and stay in touch.

Spencer Haygood said...

I hope to … perhaps some changes on the horizon. I'll stay in touch. Working my way through "Kingdom through Covenant" right now! :-)