David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology.

Tag: Celebrity

Freed to be Ordinary

http://www.challies.com/christian-living/ordinary-christian-living-for-the-rest-of-us

“‘You can’t market a book like that. It won’t sell. Nobody wants to read a book on being ordinary.’ They are probably right. Nobody wants to read a book on ordinary living because nobody aspires to be ordinary. It is not likely to sell as a book or a theme. Crazy, wild, radical, more, greater, higher, this-er, that-er, the comparatives and superlatives, these are the themes that fly off the shelves. But once we’ve been crazy and radical and wild and all the rest, why do we still feel, well, so ordinary? Why do we still feel like we’re missing out?” – Tim Challies

I don’t believe this is an argument against excellence or being proactive in things that we should be more proactive in, but rather an argument that amongst all the talk in modern Christian literature of being “awesome” and “extraordinary” and “doing big things for God” (summed up, “radical”), most of us are, well, ordinary. I’d count myself in that category. I’m an average IT guy, working at a financial company, providing for my family, ministering to a group of high school guys, who loves Christ. And it’s freeing to know that that’s okay, because the Gospel frees us to be ordinary. Are there things I could improve? Sure, no doubt. But the pressure to do something or be something big is huge it seems. And most of us are ordinary people who don’t live an extravagant, radical life and feel grossly inadequate and out of place.

This doesn’t mean some of of us won’t be extraordinary though, or that in our ordinary living extraordinary things won’t happen. And it doesn’t even mean that we shouldn’t, should the opportunity arise, pursue extraordinary things in our lives. But not everyone can or should be pursuing that (a concept handed to us by celebrity culture I believe, that we must aspire to “be awesome,” “dream huge so you can do what I’ve done” and so on; think in terms of an Academy Award acceptance speech). If everyone is extraordinary, doing extraordinary things, no one is extraordinary; the word loses its meaning. In fact, I would argue that God mostly uses ordinary people in the church to accomplish His ends throughout the world. We only see the big, headlined, mega-marketed things that are broadcasted, not the ordinary pastor in a small town, consistently shepherding a small group of people under the teaching of the gospel for 40 years.

Now if they do extraordinary things it’s because of His work and it can and does happen from time to time. Most people who accomplish incredible things for God do so because of His multiplying effect though (like Jesus with the fish and loaves), not because they were trying to “be awesome.” Rather it was precisely because they minimized themselves and got out of His way that He then did big things. In other words, extraordinary things happen because of God, not us necessarily, though certainly He uses us.

I believe the antidote to a lot of this thinking that we have to do “big things” or “be big things” (as we millennials have defined it; I guess I’m a millennial?) is a re-recovery of the Reformed view of vocation.

http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var2=881

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/calvin-and-the-christian-calling-20

Carl Trueman on the Nature of ‘Celebrity’ and the Church

Carl Trueman has posted some very insightful thoughts on the nature of ‘celebrity’ in culture generally and its impact on the church specifically. He had a good bit of push back while making many good points. I’ve included Thabiti Anyabwile’s push back. As I find them I am posting them here for future reference since this is a very fascinating subject. This has made me consider the many ways in which I fall victim to this thinking at present and affects my argumentation (i.e. appeal to authority, that is, whoever is a well-known voice rather than arguing it on its own terms). This is an important subject in relation to the church, because the craving for being known and accepted by the larger world is strong. The onslaught of ‘celebrity’ has engulfed evangelicalism to a great degree to where we rely now on lesser popes and personalities instead of the ordinary means of the local church for transformation: the word preached, prayer and the sacraments.

Precursor article:

Series of articles that got it rolling:
Seperate from the stream above but related:
A case-in-point and response to Mark Driscoll over his comments to a UK radio talk show host ( < don’t endorse the aforementioned site, BTW, just had a few good illustrations about how not to engage someone and the ensuing response in the interview and on the blog itself):
More case-in-points related to the Elephant Room 2 debacle:

T4G Conference Panel:

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