by Mark Entzminger/ October 21, 2021
Celebrities across the globe are in the spotlight now more than ever. With greater access to the world through the Internet, the lives of famous individuals and pop culture icons have become magnified as society peers in. Whether on the surface or hidden deep within, you can often find a character flaw that might not match what you believe in. Christian families and the Church are now faced with a major question after these discoveries, “Now What?”
In other words, these icons used to be someone their child could look up to because they believed they shared similar values. Perhaps they provided them with great entertainment, gave them a laugh when they wanted to cry, or helped them learn how to express themselves. But now, the parents must have a hard conversation with their child, may feel the need to purge their home of all evidence of this former hero, and manage the ongoing disappointment in the heart and eyes of their kiddo. It is an act of reconciliation between perceptions and realities of those we hold in high esteem, whether they are characters in a story or those in our real lives.
I’d like to offer the following perspectives to church leaders and parents to help shape how to respond to these cultural disappointments.
Culture tends to either gloss over or celebrate what the Church would see as a character flaw. Christian parents and church leaders must help children understand that even though someone may do incredibly heroic things during their life, there are areas of failure that may never reach the light of day. This should not diminish our view of the good they do but help us keep in mind Jesus is the only one who is the perfect hero.
Even characters portrayed in movies, comics, and internet personas have a dark side. By keeping our expectations on people to understand we all fail, may help them recognize everyone’s need for a Savior.
As the news related to this cultural icon sweeps the media, the disappointment felt toward the individual or organization can be emotionally taxing on a young person. They may want to continue to love and esteem the person, but now they are faced with a behavior that means they should not hold them in high regard. While this is true, parents and church leaders should help their children understand that our world is broken because of sin and this means we should pray for people to find Jesus as the missing piece of their life.
As young people begin to understand this is the behaviors that happen when people don’t have a foundation in the Word of God and a relationship with Jesus, then it may turn disappointment and anger into compassion. These individuals have been deceived and are in need of a rescue. The culture may continue to celebrate them and their decision, but their brokenness will never be fixed without coming to Jesus.
Christians today may not realize they are citizens of Heaven and serve as Ambassadors for Christ on Earth (2 Corinthians 5:20). This is a crucial point that must be reinforced in the church and the home. Our primary residence is Heaven but we live on Earth. This means we belong to a culture that looks, feels, and acts differently. It’s the culture Jesus was trying to help people see as He walked the earth. It’s a culture where the last are first, where the least is the greatest, where two coins from a poor widow are worth more than large sums of money from someone who has an abundance. It’s a world with a culture that is flipped upside down from what we experience on earth.
This means Christians will always be faced with challenges of what the Word of God says should be our standard and the standard being celebrated in the world. Our job as Ambassadors is to represent the world of the King of Kings with a goal of helping people see life by His standard. In this process, we should recognize people will likely have difficulty seeing beyond their own world to the world to come.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. But to be honest, I’m thankful for that. Through these cultural disappointments it will drive parents to their knees, to search the Scriptures, and even into heartfelt conversations with their children. Without these challenges, we may become complacent.
As these conversations happen in the home, be clear that you and your household will live by the standards of the Word of God, will love all people, and will see to love God first and most. By keeping Jesus at the center and having the strength to address these cultural disappointments, parents may be able to help their children navigate the previous news stream and the one that comes next.