First Baptist Church of Rahway, 177 Elm Ave., Rahway, New Jersey 07065 is a multi-cultural congregation that has a Blended English Service on Sunday Mornings, a Latino Service at 12:00, and a Service in Telugu at 3:30PM. For more information, call (732) 388-8626. Or click here to send an email. If you wish to help the Mission and Ministry of First Baptist financially click the Donate Button.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Sweet Smell of Celebrity

Maynard Ferguson mf

When I was in college I met the biggest celebrity I could imagine. Maynard Ferguson. That’s right, The Maynard Ferguson. What’s the matter? You never heard of him? That’s ok, he was a jazz musician, and I was a big fan. I used to attend his concerts whenever I could. I saw him one day in the lobby of my alma mater and I walked up to him, introduced myself and shook his hand. That’s right, my hand touched his and I walked away floating on the air. Until I realized that my hand stank of cologne. In fact, he reeked of this foul smelling stuff, as if he had dumped a whole gallon of it over his head. I had to wash my hands five times to get rid of the stench. So much for the excitement of meeting a celebrity. Now if I see someone famous, I keep my hands to myself.

Our celebrity culture is way out of control. Photographers follow them. Employees snitch
on them. Every detail of their lives are recorded. Their every action waited upon in breathless anticipation. But all we have to do is watch a couple of the biographies on E! and we can see that these people are really quite normal. In fact many of them because of poor decisions are not even worthy of our respect let alone admiration (any Democratic congressmen come to mind?). Strange isn’t it? We would be thrilled to meet a really famous person - but this person might be doing things that would deeply shame us. Many years after I met Maynard Ferguson I found out he was a serious cocaine addict. Apparently cologne wasn’t the only thing he was overindulging.

Jesus treated everyone he met with love and respect. Celebrity status didn’t faze him at all. In Luke 14:1-24 there is a story about Jesus in the home of a prominent Pharisee. The guests take some time to decide which one of them would sit at the table in the places of honor (an important custom that is still practiced in the Middle East). Jesus follows this task by talking to them about the importance of humility in the Kingdom of Heaven. I see his words as an obvious attack on the importance of maintaining the social hierarchy. I think that the guests at that table saw it that way as well. Jesus obviously wasn’t impressed with the status of the people around him.

Today Jesus would say a real celebrity is a person who does God’s will. After all he said; “you are the salt of the earth.” I’ve taken this to mean that our actions should be just as important to a person as salt is for the body. And if we become salt to another doesn’t this make us the true celebrity? Our actions here and now for the Kingdom will be remembered long after John Wayne’s films have turned to dust. And Jesus said; “you are the light of the world.” Doesn’t this mean that our daily decisions can light a path through the darkness for some lost soul? And isn’t that more important and more lasting than the most beautiful of starlets? We who seek to do God’s will are the true celebrities. Long after the age of glamour and glitz is gone our struggles to inaugurate the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth shall live on.

So I don’t pay any attention to the big names anymore. I look for celebrities living around me. I get thrilled when I meet a person who displays care and concern for me. I am excited to meet a person who lives a life of love for others. These are the true celebrities. And you can and should be one of them!
Just remember to go light on the aftershave.

God Bless You,

Pastor Bill Whitehead

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