I love the following passage from Eugene Peterson, “The Word Made Flesh“, the whole book is great – I have previously reviewed it, and I recommend it. The quote below is a response to the constant (it seems) pursuit of the famous, the cool, the uber-hip, the trendy, the beautiful, the eloquent – even in Christian ministry, this abiding thought that some are just more “cut out” for Christian ministry than others (who shouldn’t really bother) . . . why don’t we leave it to the great and the good?
Well, er – not according to Jesus. I will let Eugene take it from here,
“The Lazarus story smashes to smithereens our stereotypes of the men and women we assume provide the leadership vanguard of Jesus’ kingdom mission. Jesus is on the hunt for followers who will participate with him in establishing his kingdom rule. His first recruits take most bystanders by indignant surprise. The rich, the powerful, and influential are by no means excluded – the rich man Joseph of Arimathea and the influential rabbi Nicodemus are named and numbered among Jesus’ followers – but there is not a suggestion in the Gospel stories as written that Jesus was going after “the brightest and the best.” St Paul underlines this way of Jesus in his unflattering appraisal of those called, “God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” . . . (1 Cor 1:28 The Message).
This is in contrast to the widespread and virtually unchallenged American (here I would say, just American??) strategy to target influential and accomplished men and women for kingdom work – men and women as we say with “proven leadership qualities” or at least “leadership potential.” Wherever did we come up with that? Certainly not by reading the stories that Jesus told and the stories that were told about him.”
That about says it.
A quick personal illustration – I was in the car park at a national Christian event recently and just happened to have parked next to someone well known, across the car park I could hear the stewards talking to each other, “look! it’s so and so!” (referring to the person who had parked next to me) . . . they then peered in my direction, one turned to the other and said, “and who’s that?”, and the other said, “nah – he’s nobody.”
Not one of us is a nobody in the eyes of Jesus, not one of us is missed by his gaze. Leadership is modeled on chasing after Jesus and being like Him, it is true to say that we become like those we hang out with – if only we could get the hang of what that actually means, and spend more time with Jesus and bask in his actual glory and majesty than make do with the reflected glory from those (even in the Christian world) who we feel must be feted and honoured.
There won’t be a green room in heaven for Christian celebrity leaders.
Nobody is a nobody. Jesus knows who you are, it does not matter who else does (or doesn’t).