Lights, camera action. I look around and what I see is an insatiable appetite for notoreity. Reality TV abounds because people are searching for that big break, when their names would go up in lights so that the world can see them and adore them and sing their praises. Sadly, this is not just a worldly phenomenon but something that has crept into the church: celebrity ministers who want the choicest seats, best parking spots, special brand of water, lily white towels to wipe off the sweat generated from throwing themselves into fits of the ecstatic, while dishing out 5% scripture and 95% self-aggrandizement and people who give their service for the purpose of being noticed.
But this phenomenon is not new. Jesus contended with same among the scribes and Pharisees. In Mark 12 Jesus’ denunciation of the conduct of the teachers of the Law brings to an end Mark’s recording of His public ministry and indicates His final break with the Jewish religious authorities, who were the celebrities of the day.
“38 In His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places,39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets,” (Mark 12:39-39 – NASB).
Jesus kept warning people to watch out for those teachers of the Law who sought praise from men and abused their privileges. Many believed that by virtue of their position, they deserved to be noticed and adequately rewarded. Everyone had to know that they were great men of God. But this went against Jesus’ often teaching (in the Gospels) about greatness. That greatness was not about titles and positions and material acquisitions. Rather, it flowed out of a genuine devotion to God that was demonstrated in willing service to others. Here are the characteristics of those (celebrity) teachers of the Law, who became mini-stars instead of ministers:
(a) Liked to dress and go around in long flowing linen robes with fringes often worn by priests, law teachers and Levites so that people will know who they are; (b) Those teachers of the Law loved to be recognized and greeted in the market places with formal titles like Rabbi, master, father by the common people who respected them highly. They want you to recognize their power and place of privilege. It is no longer about the mission and the message but it becomes about the man; (c) They liked to have the most important seats in the synagogue, those reserved for dignitaries, situated in front of the chest containing the sacred scrolls of scripture and facing the whole congregation; (d) They love to have the places of honour at the banquets and special events at which they get to sit next to the hosts and receive preferential treatment. It is no longer considering the next person or regarding others more highly than ourselves (Phil 2:1-3).
We, today, must judge our own motive and ask ourselves, do I serve to be noticed or do I serve out of love for God and gratitude for what He has done?