There are a few sayings in christianese (the language Christians speak) that grate at me. One of those is the saying “Make Jesus Famous.” It may just be a me thing. Some times God allows me to be frustrated with something because He is after something in me. It seems that many people in the Christian world are tagging photos of things they are proud of in ministry with the hash tag #makingjesusfamous Here’s the problem. I can’t see their heart but God can. So I’m not sure if they are actually doing what the bible would consider fame worthy.
Why does “Making Jesus Famous” rub me the wrong way? Because we have a perverted view of fame. Often times what that statement means is a desire to be be famous so we can bring Jesus along for the ride. We want fame more than we want Jesus. We actually use Jesus to get what we really want and that’s fame. We have this desire to be famous that we allow to go unchecked because we shellac it with good intentions. What we don’t realize is a desire for fame is a cancer for our soul. It’s anti biblical. Jesus came to serve not to be served. The gospel tells me the way up is down. I have no problem with anyone making Jesus famous by living a life that makes famous people scratch their collective heads.
We mistake the power of Gospel with the power of an infomercial. We want our churches to be bigger fuller and more amazing for the low low price of 9.99. It doesn’t work that way. I know Christians who are praying for Miley Cyrus not that God would have mercy on her lost soul, but they pray for her because they believe she is so famous that the byproduct of her salvation will result in Jesus will get a bigger platform. While this is true in a sense it is very dangerous because we start to quantify our influence in a way the Bible doesn’t. The church has bought into what culture tells us fame is. We run hyped out events that in the end point back to us rather than draw people to make Christ their treasure. When you understand that we serve a God who is far bigger than anything we can conceive a God is in control of everything, we are free to love, serve and lay our lives down for the sake of His name not ours.
Philippians 2 says it this way. –
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Everyone who knew Jesus didn’t live a famous life but all of them died famous deaths. You want to make Jesus famous do more things that you don’t hash tag.
21 comments On Make Jesus Famous?
Great post. I’ve often felt the same way as you, but good job articulating it and done in love.
Thanks Josh. I’m doing a second part tomorrow about what it looks like to make Jesus famous and not use Jesus to get famous.
I’m with you on this one, Sam. Let’s not equate our pursuit of fame with God’s well-deserved glory.
Joey love that! Great way to sum up what I was thinking.
Thank you, Pastor Sam, for an excellent post. I am bewildered by how common it has become for Christian leaders to focus on fame (theirs or Christ’s). The gospel is simple and God does not need our efforts to bedazzle it. He has shown us what is good – to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly. Love God, love others- that is how simple it should be to be a Christian.
Laurie thanks for your comment appreciate your encouragement. Miss you and your family very much.
I miss you too. If you are ever in our area for a conference or speaking engagement, please let me know. Would love to see you and Sandra and catch up.
A church in our area (The entire church) uses that as their slogan. T-shirts, car tags, signage, website… “Making Jesus Famous”. I’m with you. It rubs me the wrong way. He is everything. He does not need us to “help Him”.
Dean I wasn’t think of any church in particular. Just concerned that we keep our priorities right. His glory not our fame is what matters most.
Great post Sam. I love that I get the opportunity to preach the most amazing message ever written. How do I make Jesus, the most influential, talked about person on our planet famous? I think He has got that down. The way I look at is is simple. I have the opportunity when I speak now to say, God help me to be in tune with what you are already doing in peoples hearts. If I can speak from that place of trusting that it’s not up to me but I get to partner with God to see Him redeem, restore, transform lives, for me that is the most amazing thing that I can be apart of.
Thanks Rob. He is I get what people are saying when they say make him famous, but I don’t like the phrase because we have a problem with fame in North America. We make far to many things about us. I see the make Jesus Famous movement as just that. God being glorified is simply collateral damage created from me being exulted. I want to live for God’s Glory that is what I want. He must increase I must decrease said the man who lost his head speaking about the biblical view of marriage, but that’s a post for another day.
I stumbled upon your blog when I googled “where did make jesus famous come from.” I feel the same way as you, that phrase rubs me the wrong way, but I couldn’t really put into words why it does. After reading your post I have a little more clarity as to why it sounds offensive. When I hear the word “famous” I think of those celebrities in the world today who are, quite frankly, wicked people. Miley Cyrus is a good example, Kim Kardashian is another. To make him “famous” would actually be taking away His glory. He is not a celebrity. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! People that say this don’t understand the holiness of our God. He shares his glory with no one.
Megan thanks for you comment. Like many things the nuances make all the difference. Living for God’s fame comes from a different place and ends in a different place than living to make Jesus famous. Maybe it’s semantics but I don’t think so.
Perhaps it’s in the perspective of the viewer…
We can mistake the intent of a statement when viewed from different perspectives.
If viewed from the perspective of “making Him known”, then “Making Jesus Famous” becomes a statement about witnessing, not about Fame.
I agree with your comment Patrick. When I see the statement “Make Jesus Famous”, I see it as spreading the Gospel so all would know Him. I look at it as an opportunity for evangelism and letting others know and love Jesus. I also see it has a call for me to live a more “Christ like” existence so others are drawn to Him as they can see Jesus shine through me. It has nothing to do with me wanting to be famous.
Friend, there seems to be a lot of presumption in your statements, and it seems that you have assumed motivations in a manner that is extremely unhelpful, and honestly, maybe even contrary to what I see in the New Testament. Feels like you have imputed a lot of sentiments onto a lot of people, with limited reasoning. The “famous” literary means “having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated.” Whenever I say ‘make Jesus famous’ I am literally saying that I seek to expand Jesus’ reputation, especially where he currently doesn’t have a reputation. Currently, 42% of the world have never heard of Jesus and never heard the gospel. One of my life’s mission is to help lower that number. Jesus deserves to be renowned, to be a acclaimed, to be celebrated. I want him to be worshiped in the places of the world where he currently does not receive worship, by those who currently do not know him. I want Jesus to be celebrated in the hearts and minds of people that currently do not celebrate him. To make Jesus famous is to fight to present Jesus to those who do not know him, in hopes of seeing them trust him and celebrate who he is!!! With all due respect, I feel the need to speculate that maybe the reason why God is allowing this statement to “grate” on you is because he is trying to point out some flaw in you? Maybe? Making Jesus ‘famous’ is about making him #1 and helping others see why Jesus deserves to be #1 in their lives too!
Kenny thanks for taking the time to respond. I think you may have missed the second post I wrote the next day after this one. http://samluce.com/2013/11/how-can-we-make-jesus-famous/ I say in that article that there are several people who I respect that use the term “Make Jesus Famous” they, however, use it in a way that matched with their lives work shows what they mean by fame. Their life of humility and self-sacrifice that is otherworldly makes people ask why they live in that way. That is what makes Jesus famous. What I was addressing in this post is the unhelpful epidemic in youth ministry where pastors believe that hanging with Justin Beiber and wearing $20,000.00 hoodies will elevate the message of the Gospel. The problem is if our heart is unchecked we can desire fame for the sake of our renowned, not Gods. You are right this is a danger for you and me both. We need God’s help without it we will seek fame and say it’s for God when in actuality fame has become our the actual god of our life. Blessings to you as you make Jesus famous in every corner of the globe.
Would you have them do the opposite? Certainly, there are some who use the name of Jesus to glorify themselves. Yet there’s also the potential that many more people use phrases like these to give Jesus his due glory. The spotlight of creation shines on Jesus. We do well to remind ourselves of this truth. If you struggle with this phrase, why? Could our great God not do immeasurably more than we can imagine? Could He not be working in others in ways that are uncomfortable or unfamiliar to you? If you are raw about the bumper sticker or hashtag of another church, ascribing glory to Jesus, maybe you are actually raw that God has not been fruitful through you. It’s possible that we are jealous of our brothers and sisters as we see our Father work through them. Go ahead, click the hashtag. These are your brothers and sisters and Christ. Applaud your Father’s work in them and pray for His glory to be maximized in you.
Amen – I attended a Church in Raleigh that had that as their motto or vision.
Jesus is the most famous person to ever live. How can we improve on that?
Exactly. To spread His fame is different. To make Jesus famous is not something we can even do. To go into the world and testify of his beauty and greatness is what we are all called to do.
Tim, two things:
1- more than 40% of the world has never even heard of Jesus.
2- many of the people who have heard of Jesus have a gross misunderstanding of who Jesus was, what he believed, what he preached, what he valued, and what he came to do. So while they may have heard from Jesus they’ve not truly come to know the Jesus of the Bible. They have a gross misunderstanding of who Jesus actually is. So whenever people use the moniker “make Jesus famous” they’re most often simply referring to making the real Jesus known, introducing people to what Jesus was really all about.