A few decades ago a very popular rock group claimed in an interview that, “We are more famous than Jesus Christ.”  As the years passed, the band broke up and two of the four members have died.  Society still likes to adore their “idols” and bask vicariously in their shadows.  Celebrities of all kinds—musicians, actors, politicians, athletes, etc, receive wealth, privileges, honors, deference, respect and fame from their admirers.  The idea seems to be that mere knowledge of a celebrity will somehow transfer that fame to a fan.  Buying merchandise containing their name on it cements that bond even more.  If fans don’t literally bow their knees to these celebrities, they certainly do so with their mouths and their money.

Very few famous people can turn their backs on the perks that accompany such adulation.  Unfortunately, many religious leaders enjoy being served rather than serving their followers.  The Jewish rabbis of Jesus’ day were certainly not immune, as they loved the most important seats in the synagogues and the greetings in the marketplaces (Lk 11:43), and devoured widow’s houses (Mk 12:40).  Several famous preachers in our time have enriched themselves through false humility and man-made rules (Col 2:18-23).  How many luxury autos and mansions have been purchased by scamming the poor?

Fame can also come to those who were already serving God and mankind: Moses, Joshua (Jos 6:27), David (1 Chr 14:17), Solomon (1 Ki 4:31), and, of course, Jesus (Mt 4:24) (Mt 9:26) (Mt 9:31).  Although Jesus was mocked, challenged, despised, and rejected (Is 53:3), yet he is loved and obeyed by millions now and at some point, “…at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth…” (Php 2:10)  No one has been or could be more famous!  But unlike many, he totally deserves such honor because he created everything and is the head of the body, the church (Col 1:16-18).  And yet, he was humble enough to wash the apostles feet, and then die a cruel death for humanity (Jo 13:5) (Jo 3:16).

I could not find a verse that specifically said that fame is fleeting.  However, there are several that say that mankind’s life is fleeting (Job 14:2) (Ps 39:4) (Ps 89:47).  Beauty is also called fleeting (Pr 31:30).  It is true that certain types of fame might last beyond our physical life in books and statues.  Any accomplishments and fame one has earned on this earth will not impress God, only the obedience of being covered in the innocent blood of Christ will matter in heaven (Rom 6:3) (Rom 8:1) (Rom 8:11).


—Jim Bailey