Christians need heroes. They can live without celebrities.
The two are not always easily distinguished. Some heroes become celebrities and some celebrities can be heroic. But in general, the two words mean different things and refer to two different kinds of people.
- Heroes are admired for bravery, nobility, honor, and character. Celebrities are admired for beauty and talent.
- Heroes grow through suffering and we respect them for it. Celebrities flounder in dysfunction and we are amused by it.
- Heroes are followed; we want to learn from them. Celebrities are feted, we want to lounge with them.
- Heroes makes us feel unworthy when we are around them and not the best we can be. Celebrities make us feel special just to be near them.
- Heroes serve others with or without being noticed. Celebrities perform to be seen by others.
- Heroes don’t look for status, recognition, or payment. Celebrities look for the cameras and for lucrative compensation.
- Heroes desire to sacrifice for others. Celebrities enjoy others sacrificing for them.
- Heroes admit their faults. Celebrities flaunt their talents.
- Heroes deflect praise. Celebrities crave it.
- Heroes edify. Celebrities entertain.
And what exactly is the point of these comparisons?
Well known Christians should examine themselves to see whether they live the life of a hero or a celebrity.
Bloggers, parishoners, and readers should discern into which category they place their favorite authors and speakers.
And all of us should be circumspect with our words, careful to tear down only what God would tear down and eager to build up what God would build up. Celebrity Christianity is problematic. Loving your leaders and imitating good examples is not. For if the celebrification of every kind of mega-star makes for a sorry state of affairs, so does a world without heroes.