Christians can’t be rich and famous
Now that we have your attention …
That headline is incorrect.
Of course it is, we hear you think. Of course Christians can be rich and famous. How dare we limit or stifle what a Christian can be.
But is that what we really think? Is that what we think whenever we hear that a rich and famous person is a Christian?
Take this challenge: 22-year-old singing superstar Justin Bieber is a Christian.
What do you think of that? So rich and famous it’s an understatement to say he’s rich and famous, Bieber has been dropping more and more references to his faith during the past few years.
From prominently attending one of Hillsong’s churches in New York City to posting “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) to his 64 million followers on Instagram last Thursday, Bieber professes to be a believer.
What do you think of that?
Hard, but not impossible
Why does it even seem like a Christian couldn’t also be rich and famous? What’s the issue?
Some of us like to think that Christianity is opposed to wealth and celebrity. For example, we might raise how Jesus says it’s impossible for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven.
But Jesus didn’t actually say that. What he told his disciples was that it would be super-hard, not impossible (Matthew 19:23).
Okay, okay. Fair point. But straight after that, didn’t Jesus actually say it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God?
Yes, he did (see Matthew 19:24).
But he said more than that. When his disciples asked him “Then who can be saved?”, Jesus replied: “With men this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26)
Yes, being able to enter the kingdom of God is so hard for a rich person to do, it’s simpler to thread a humpy animal through a tiny space.
But it’s not impossible. All things are possible with God.
The heart of the matter
For Justin Bieber, entering the kingdom of God is much harder than for someone far less wealthy.
It’s not harder because there is a different way for the rich and the nowhere-near-as-rich. Whoever you are, you have the same way of entering the kingdom of God: Jesus (see John 14:6 — “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”).
It’s harder for Justin Bieber because he has more to give up. More of the things of our world that we can devote ourselves to, instead of being devoted to the source of all good things (James 1:17 — “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from [God]”).
And when fame is added to the account of a wealthy person, there’s another desirable thing of this life that can be costly when it comes to entering eternal life.
Entering the kingdom of Heaven (or kingdom of God) means you will be entering into eternal life. When Jesus was asked by a young rich bloke how to enter eternal life, he told him to sell all he had, give it to the poor and follow him (Mark 10:17-22).
Even though Jesus loved this rich young bloke for his diligent lifestyle of living by God’s commands (Mark 10:19-21), he still cut to the heart of the matter.
Among other things, Christians are called to selflessly give (Matthew 25:35-45; Hebrews 13:16; James 1:27, 2:14-17) and be humble (Matthew 23:12).
But what Jesus was hoping the rich young bloke would understand was it’s not just about doing those things.
It’s about your heart. Putting your whole heart into it.
Handing over the desires of your heart — desires for wealth, fame, success or whatever you crave for yourself — so your heart’s desire is to desire to live for the kingdom of God.
Whether you are poor, rich or Justin Bieber, the issue isn’t whether you’ve got to much money or too much fame to be a Christian.
The issue is whether you are prepared to value the kingdom of God more highly than anything else.