A highly successful marketing campaign combined the media darling of tennis, Andre Agassi, and Canon cameras a few years ago. Commercials would show the then popular handsome athlete energetic action poses stroking his long flowing hair and concluding with a close-up as Andre said, “Image is Everything!” As it turned out most everything was image. The long flowing hair was a wig and much of the energy was assisted by crystal meth. However, the public continues to buy into the ‘image’ of celebrities whether they are politicians, sports or movie stars. Some even enjoy idolizing their favorite pastor. Time after time we see these images collapse in some moral failure as one celebrity after another will disappoint us with failure. Tiger Woods is another example in a long line that will continue.
We seem to be a people of short memories as we soon turn our eyes to the next celebrity figure hoping this will be the one we can honor as a role model and place upon a pedestal. We forget that behind what is presented as intelligence, talent, charisma or attractive appearance (much of which is often a carefully crafted marketing image) beats a heart like ours susceptible to the same sins and temptations. More often than not, as they are awarded the privilege of celebrity status an attitude known as ‘hubris’ develops. This ancient Greek term indicates overweening pride, haughtiness, or arrogance, outrageous acts or exhibitions of pride or disregard for basic moral laws often resulting in fatal retribution. Hubris leads people to think they are above normal laws of the land, nature or morality that apply to everyone else. Eventually that pride leads to a fall as well stated in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Our fascination and desire to honor people and give them celebrity status is illustrated as a liability early in human history in I Samuel chapter 8. God desired his people to look to him and only follow leaders he appoints who have integrity and Spiritual leadership qualities given by him. The people were warned of consequences from following earthly kings but verses 19 and 20 gives their reply; “No! We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations”. The desire to follow others, even to give others celebrity status goes back to the desire for a king. We want to be like everyone else, and look up to others rather than God.
However, God created us to be different. We are to exalt God not fellowmen. We are to look to God for leadership before men. We are to look for guidance from his word before listening to words of men. There are times when God uses people to lead but we should be very careful then to only follow those people who exhibit Godly qualities, even then they should be held accountable and not be given celebrity status lest they develop pride. Scripture gives many such warnings such as I Corinthians 10:12-13, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
Back to the Canon commercial, time has shown us Andre is bald, used drugs and Canon cameras have been topped by iPhone. “Image is not Everything.” Image is usually just that, image. Faith in God and integrity may not be as flashy but they are real, not image. They will last long beyond a carefully crafted celebrity image and never disappoint.