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Justin Bieber, Christian Celebrity, and SEO

Christian celebrity

Over the many years I’ve been blogging, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: we would much rather talk about big social topics than about ourselves. When I post something about Christian celebrities or a controversial topic, the number of visitors to my site soars and comments pour in. Topics like Jimmy John Shark would also engage visitors all over the world.

For example, years ago I posted something about raising the dead, which is hardly a requirement for following Jesus. Everyone rushed to the table with comments on Twitter, Instagram, and FB where the state of the church was sliced, diced, and deconstructed.

Or in another vein, with the mere mention of a Christian celebrity I can drive thousands more visitors to my site. This means that SEO data is now driving much of the content on Christian websites. Christian celebrity means lots of Internet clicks. Mention Justin Bieber in the headline and your post is likely to go viral. Why is that?

If, however, I post something about our individual need to wait for God in silence, or our personal destiny to become conformed to his image, I get the internet equivalence of chirping crickets. Nothing. Like busking in the Metro, everyone hurries by. And why not? Christianity is way more fun when we’re talking about other people. Following Jesus isn’t such a joyride if he wants to talk to me–at least, that’s what we think.

I’m sure today’s snarky tone doesn’t help–no one likes a scold. And it’s true, I am one of us as well. I would much rather about famous people and political issues than listen to the still small voice addressing the secrets of my heart.

Image my surprise when I found the private notes of a world leader who longed to hear the whisper spoken to him alone. A man who held a position of national significance, no, wait–historical importance. Yet he was a man who positioned himself in the quiet place and waited for his best friend to come and sit with him.

My heart is not proud, O LORD, 

my eyes are not haughty; 

I do not concern myself with great matters 

or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;

like a weaned child with its mother,

like a weaned child is my soul within me.  

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD

both now and forevermore. (~ Psalm 131, a psalm of David)

God took the boy out of the shepherd’s field and put him in the palace, but not before embedding the hillside, the breeze, the night sky and the quiet times into his heart. The Biblical histories of Samuel and Chronicles will tell you the palace was a place filled with intrigue, politics, war and power–and it was. The Psalms and Proverbs will tell you that David took time to climb the stairs, shut the door, and pick up the harp.

Our greatest need–my greatest need–is the daily presence of the Holy Spirit, not social media posts about Christian celebrity. When David knew he had stepped over the line, claiming power and privilege as some sort of birth right, he repented before the Lord and begged that the presence would remain:

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence

or take your Holy Spirit from me. (Psalm 51: 10-11)

At the end of each day, literally, as I lay me down to sleep, my Father won’t be impressed with my intellect or insight. He’ll be concerned with the beat of my heart. In the quiet (if there is quiet) he will want to know if I lived a whole-hearted life that day. Did my actions spring from the well of the Spirit or the treadmill of importance? He will be concerned with these questions because he knows that spiritual formation happens each day. The only question is: what have we formed?

This article about Christian celebrity and SEO originally appeared here, and is used by permission.

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Ray Hollenbach, a Chicagoan, writes about faith and culture. He currently lives in central Kentucky, which is filled with faith and culture. His book "Deeper Change" (and others) is available at Amazon.com