We Already Have a Messiah
We Already Have a Messiah
When I was in high school, there was an amazing football game in which the Buffalo Bills were down 32 points against the Houston Oilers. Their back-up quarterback, Frank Reich, was put in to replace the Bills’ injured starting QB, and he led the team back to win in overtime. The Comeback remains the largest in NFL history. It was a pretty special story that was quickly passed through youth ministries across the country, because after the game, Reich quoted the song “In Christ Alone” (the Christian pop version, not the modern hymn version. Both good songs, though). Not long after, we were blessed with Michael English’s “In Christ Alone” music video that highlights incredible clips from the game – complete with exuberant reactions from the stadium and giddiness, shock, and relief expressed in the post-game news conference. Certainly revival was about to break out across the land! And you know what happened?
And then there was a time where famous person X said something about their savior Jesus Christ after they did something great. And another time when famous person Y actually thanked God and credited Him with their success in their particular field of awesomeness. And yet, great revival doesn’t seem to break out across the land.
There seems to be an epidemic, and certainly within youth ministry culture, where we are desperate for someone famous to become a Christian. I remember everyone being excited that the Baltimore Ravens won last year’s Super Bowl so that linebacker Ray Lewis could preach or something. We reason, “If only so-and-so would get saved, imagine how many people would come to faith!” If only Ray Lewis could speak, imagine the revival across all of Baltimore!
There is a scaled-down presence of this in youth ministry as well. It typically takes the form of The Popular Kid. Teens often think that if certain peers are promoting the gospel, then somehow it carries more weight. We easily buy into the illusion of status.
My big question to them is, “Why?”
Why do you think that the gospel needs a platform?
In our human hearts, we constantly seek some social legitimacy to the faith we proclaim to have. Perhaps we think that if there were enough famous people to endorse our religion then we could incite revival. At times it even appears that if we can’t find sufficient celebrity endorsement, then we will just exalt some of our pastors to celebrity status.
But when we open up the pages of Scripture, we find that it was not the name or notoriety of the people sharing the good news that caused a great move of the Spirit. The power is in the gospel itself. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
The world loves to have a celebrity, qualified or not, endorse its platform. It works for PETA. It works for political candidates. But the gospel is neither one of those. In fact, the Bible tells us that God works in the exact opposite way. “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:27-29).
Could it be that God’s design for the great spread of the gospel is to bring about renown in His own right instead of relying on worldly notoriety? Why do we look to famous public figures and hope that they might be able to “convince” people to come to Christ? Do we not believe what the Scriptures testify – that God will be faithful in bringing death to life simply when the Spirit quickens a heart and the gospel is proclaimed, so that He alone will get the glory?
We must believe that the “ordinary” ways God has ordained for the gospel to spread, in the pulpit and personal discipleship, are sufficient for a mighty work of the Spirit. Revival will not come by attaching faith to fame. It is only when we humble ourselves before the Lord that we truly find abundant life. Your pastor in the pulpit, your goofy student pastor, or your least faithful student—no matter how “gifted” you think he or she is—is plenty sufficient in his or her weakness for a great move of God if he/she is faithful to the Word.
So I would invite you to stop looking for legitimacy of the gospel in famous people. The death and resurrection of Christ is what gives the good news all the credit it needs. Christians often pity the Jews that are still awaiting their messiah to come and save them. But the reality is that many of us are not living any differently. We are still looking forward to the famous one who is going to change everything, rather than living in the full realization that He has already come and will one day come again.
We already have a Messiah.