As soon as I was old enough, Dad signed me up for the Sarcoxie Lazy Bones little league team. They must have been short on players because there was no tryout (probably the only reason I made the team). My first game I was put in right field—terrified someone would hit a ball my direction. On my first at bat I struck out; by the time I could take a swing I'm certain the ball was already on its way back to the pitcher. On my second at bat I was hit by a pitch. On my third at bat I was hit by a pitch. Dad never let me quit anything midway through, but in this case he made an exception.
Oh, how I wanted to have a talent at sports. Sports were always where the girls were—even in grade school. But I had to settle for having a talent at music. And boys who are stars in their high school band are not exactly chick magnets.
I wanted so much to be a celebrity in my high school… to be popular… to be the first on anybody's list. But that… I'll never know. I do know, however, many of my athlete friends can't play sports any more because of their left‐over aches and pains, while I am pain free and can still play music.
Celebrity is crippling our culture—from playgrounds to retirement villages. Worshipping celebrities (in all areas of life, not just in the entertainment industry) is neutering our ability to see the greatness of God's plan for each and every individual's life (see Jeremiah 29:11).
If anyone had bragging rights to celebrity status, it would be Paul of the Bible. The Word God spoke through Paul has changed, and continues to change, the world around us each and every day. The fruit of his life would surely intimidate any celebrity alive today. We would be wise to look at celebrity from his perspective. (Please read through Philippians chapter 3, which I will be discussing.)
First of all, beware of certain people (v. 2). Think of this in the way my attorney told me to beware of a sue‐happy employee: “Treat her like a mad dog. Keep your eye on her and don't let her bite you.” Beware of people that are disrespectful. Celebrity has no respect for other people. Celebrity is all about “me” whether you are on the giving end or the receiving end. If you are tempted to consider certain people as celebrities, check out the fruit in their lives. If a lot of bad stuff surrounds them, then beware of them. And especially beware of celebrities who do not have a Biblical worldview; they are similar to the people in Paul's day who adhered to the circumcision rather than to the Gospel.
One of the common characteristics of someone caught up in celebrity is the tendency toward being gullible. Granting celebrity status to Jim Jones caused the death of over 900 men, women, and children who literally “drank the Kool‐Aid” in the late seventies in Jonestown, Guyana. When gullible people assign star status to politicians, destructive economic and social policies are swallowed blindly instead of rejected wisely. Celebrity in the entertainment industry causes gullible fans to believe the opinions of the stars are as great as their talent. To beware of certain types of people will protect you from being gullible.
Next, Paul makes a declaration of who He is in Christ. (When you think of declaration, think “Declaration of Independence.” A declaration is sort of an in‐your‐face statement of the way things are—regardless of what they appear to be.) Listen to this verse from the Amplified Bible.
For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances. (Philippians 3:3 Amp)
Can you sense the power in this statement? Declarations have no “Plan B” attached. When Paul says he puts no confidence or dependence on what we are in the flesh, he means it. It's Jesus Christ or nothing.
My furniture manufacturing business started to slide, at about the same time many of the dot.com entrepreneurs were still crowing over their successes. Of course, at the time, I didn't know their end was near, but I knew mine was. I can still remember my rage whenever they were being publicly interviewed about their achievements. I had worked hard for so many years and I was failing, while these Johnny‐come‐latelys had been granted celebrity status. During one interview I just screamed through the television at the young man: “You little (expletive deleted), I've forgotten more than you will ever know!” Without realizing it, I was just as caught up in celebrity as he was.
Paul is essentially saying (vs. 4–7), to those having confidence in their own stuff, the same thing I was saying to the young millionaire. But Paul is not caught up in celebrity. Instead of speaking in a self‐absorbed rage, he is knocking the celebrity out of us with a proper perspective on human effort. A man who is truly deserving of celebrity rejects it by saying:
“We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!” (Philippians 3:3a–4 NLT)
All those things Paul had worked so hard to achieve before his encounter with Jesus, are nothing, in his mind, when compared to what he gained when he submitted his life to Jesus. By comparison, Paul considered all of his achievements as nothing but animal excrement or rubbish (v. 8).
There is a very important point made in verses 8–10 that I don't want you to miss. Paul had world‐class credentials which he put aside so he could gain Christ and all He represents. This is the moment Paul traded his credentials for Christ's. He no longer had the discipline of a Pharisee; he had the discipline of Christ. He no longer had integrity and virtue because he followed the law; he was a good man because he had the righteousness of God. He no longer had the power of his political office; he had the power that raised Christ from the dead.
Let me put this point into story form:
“Charlene was quite talented as well as beautiful. She
had what it takes to be the most popular girl on campus, and she so enjoyed
the attention. Jill had talent too, but not that celebrity kind of talent.
didn't stand out in a crowd; she was just another nameless coed.
“Charlene and Jill grew up on the same street. But the differences between the two girls were so noticeable, even back then, that a friendship was never formed. Jill had always wanted to be like Charlene, and Charlene had always been glad she wasn't like Jill.”
Since this is all make‐believe, I will add a twist to the story. What happened to the two girls when revival broke out on their campus? What happened when both of these girls ended up side by side seeking God at a park bench on the Campus Square? Let's continue.
“Charlene and Jill suddenly had no use for anything personal. They both wanted to make a trade. Charlene wanted to trade all the things making her such a celebrity. Jill wanted to trade all the things that kept her from being a celebrity. Both girls had very different lives to trade. But God, being willing to take any life in trade, gave them each the same thing in return—Himself.”
Please consider, Jesus will take any life in on trade for Himself. And when you are in Christ you have the same potential as any other person.
Have a good weekend,