Avoiding the Folly of Fame
In the past month the illusion of celebrity license shattered yet again as another young starlet faced the consequences for her actions. Though this starlet stands most at fault, she does not stand alone. In our day I fear that the license hidden fifty years ago by Hollywood stars for fear that the public outrage has become not only the expectation for stars but the goal for many in American society. The temporal rewards afforded by celebrity have become our culture’s most ardent desire. Let me share with you a statement that sheds some light onto the folly of fame. Rick Stanley, stepbrother to Elvis Presley is quoted by Ravi Zacharias as saying that “most people don’t understand that Elvis Presley was not addicted to drugs but he was addicted to the fame and dreaded the day that fame ever left him.” Fame offers both prestige and license; however both are fleeting in this Fallen world. Adopting personal fame as a goal for living imprisons us in a cloud of desperation and discontent seen all too often in the lives of America’s rich and famous.
What does the Bible say about fame? In Eighteen verses the ESV translators use the English word fame to convey the meaning of Hebrew and Greek words, each time connecting the idea to the Lord. Perhaps the best example to look at is the one in Joshua 6:27 after the defeat of Jericho. The verse reads “So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.” One question for you: whose fame is in the land? Even though Joshua receives some measure of fame, the Lord his God receives a longer lasting acclaim. Joshua’s fame came because he was God’s man, but God’s fame came because He is God! Though Joshua’s fame changes and fades, the fame of the Lord continues because he is unfading and unchanging.
So let’s examine Joshua’s life a bit more to discover why he receives fame as God’s man. If you read Joshua 1 the Lord encourages Joshua to be strong and courageous in the work God gives him, remembering the guidance God has given him, because God is with him. Joshua lives out this encouragement all his days. Coming to the end of his life, he addresses the people in chapters 23-24. Beginning with the Exodus and the conquest of the Land Joshua recounts the ways God worked to accomplish these things in the lives of his servants. In conclusion he charges the people saying, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” If we live for the Lord we will likely never see our name in lights, never see a blank check, nor see an ultimate pass to do as we please. Even so, that which we gain does not escape so easily or fade away so quickly. Listen to the apostle John in 1 John 2:17 “and the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. If we are to avoid the folly of fame we must abandon all of its worldly trappings setting our affections on that which is eternal, namely our Lord Jesus Christ.