Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another American Idol?

He was the new music minister at our church who quickly became good friends with my family. As a young teenage girl, I had found what I thought to be a good Christian role model, someone to look up to. In a few short months, he began teaching me advanced piano, he and his fiancé attended a barbecue in our backyard, he played badminton with my brother and me, and he said his marital vows in my presence. Then, a couple weeks after the wedding ceremony, he left his wife, had the marriage annulled, resigned his position at the church, and swept out of my life.

I was crushed. How could a Christian do this? And what effect would I let this have on my faith?

It seems built into our genes to idolize others. Christians and non-Christians alike are guilty of putting on pedestals anyone who claims Jesus as Lord and Savior, expecting only absolute perfection from a Christian. And when those Christians fall, everyone is watching, sometimes just waiting for them to trip over their own sinful humanity. I’ve heard some react indignantly: “They’re no different from me!” or “If that’s what being a Christian is, I want nothing to do with it.” I’ve heard others react in defeat: “If she couldn’t follow the narrow path, then I know I don’t have a chance of staying true to Christ.”

The problem with such reactions is they show a focus outward instead of upward. God never told us to keep our eyes focused on mankind for an example of what a Christian should look like. Instead, Jesus told His disciples, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Notice Jesus didn’t say “be perfect as your pastor is perfect” or “as your best friend is perfect.” He didn’t even tell us to look at Himself for a model of perfection, even though we know He is the model of a sinless, perfect life. He said to look at the Father.

One reason we must look to God alone is because while we may think the people we know and admire are Christians, we cannot 100% know their hearts. This is why John said of several people whom he had considered brothers in Christ at one time, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). Even Paul who at one point considered Demas a “fellow laborer” for Christ later admitted, “Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me” (Phil. 1:24; Coll. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:10).

Another reason for looking to God alone is because our faith must be in God, not in man. In Philippians 3:13b-14, Paul gives the analogy of the Christian life being like running a race: “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He later says, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb. 12:1-2a, my italics) To run a good race, we must keep our eyes on the goal, on Jesus, not on other Christians, lest our faith falter and we stumble or fall.

If you’ve been disappointed in the past by something a Christian said or did and that has affected your relationship with God, you must determine in your heart if your faith is in man or in God. A steady, strong faith cannot be contingent upon another man or woman’s actions, even if you've idolized that person your whole life. A faith must be rooted in Christ alone. As the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”


  1. How true this is.

    We often set people us in a sense when we put them on a pedestal.

  2. Jennifer, you have shared very powerful words of wisdom. Oh, that we may just fasten our eyes on Him! I love the song you shared. "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" melts my heart and puts all in perspective.

    Thank you so much for being a woman of love and grace.

    In His Love,