Day Seventy-Five: Take People Off the Pedestal

It all started with a tweet. 

Yesterday Mary DeMuth (yes, the author of that really good book) sent a tweet into the cyber world that caught my attention:

“It could be just me, but it seems Christians are extremely starstruck by other famous Christians.”

I had to laugh because it is true, and then I had to stop and think about what that really meant. Why do we, ordinary people, put other “famous” people on pedestals? Why do we esteem writers, movie stars, musicians, etc. so? What is up with this weird, weird habit? 

In my Esther bible study this week, Beth Moore touched on this intriguing topic. As humans, we have a strange desire to idolize other humans. We are a celebrity driven culture. It’s even so popular as to garner a few special terms. 

One of those terms is so named “BIRGing and CORFing”. BIRGing is our tendency to cling to someone of fame, literally becoming obsessed. You see this culture played out especially in the lives of pre-teen girls. My obsessions were numerous: Britney Spears, NSYNC, Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson… I idolized these celebrities. I knew every single detail about their lives (as released to the public), and I immersed myself in every news story, television program, and radio show that featured these “great” people. I, in terms of social psychology, was “basking in reflective glory”. I had them on the pedestal, and I was bowing at their feet, eager to get a little of the attention. 

And then there came a moment when those pedestals came crashing down. As is the case with most human beings, these celebrities made mistakes. They released an inappropriate song. They made a spectacle of themselves at the VMAs. They did something that did not warrant a pedestal, and I immediately backed away. 

Hence the term CORFing. I didn’t mind being associated with these people as long as they were succeeding, but the moment they made a mistake I “cut off the reflective failure”. I took them off the pedestal and waited patiently for someone else worthy enough of my praise to come along. 

This is a weird, weird practice. 

The more I think about it, the more I realize that our pedestals only set us up for failure. When we put people on pedestals, we turn them into idols. And by turning them into idols, we turn everything they have into idols: fame, beauty, money, status. We start changing things about ourselves in order to “look like them”, “talk like them”, “succeed like them”… even “serve God like them”. Unhealthy expectations are added to the pedestal, and we lose a crucial part of our lives: ourselves. 

Beauty is often placed on this pedestal. I take certain “beautiful people” and place them at the place of honor in my life. Because I’m “basking in their glory” I feel the need to change my life so I too can be glorious like them. 

So begins the cycle. 

What would happen if we knocked down the pedestals for good? What would happen if we took another person’s beauty, fame, fortune, or celebrity status off the altar? What would happen if we looked at all those “famous people” in the light of truth? 

For one, we would realize that we come from dust. We would realize that someone’s status does not make them worthy of the pedestal. We would realize that celebrities are just a few more ordinary people doing extraordinary things. 

We would have our focus redirected to the true Celebrity. 

Let’s take those people off our pedestals today. Let’s take those expectations off of the throne. Let’s worship the only God worthy of our honor today and treat everyone else like normal human beings. 

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of sitting under that wooden pedestal of fame. 

Verse: “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.” (Psalm 96:4-8)

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