About two weeks ago from this writing, Tim Tebow played quarterback in an NFL game for the first time in two years. That Sunday, I noticed a resurgence of Christian friends cheering for him on social media. We like the idea of famous Christians—we think that the more famous they become the greater their potential impact for the kingdom. We get excited when celebrities make professions of faith and dream about what might happen if Katy Perry converted to Christianity and used her massive platform to tell others about Jesus rather than singing about how she can’t remember what she did last Friday night.
Truthfully, as a professional Christian, my perspective is not all that different—I write articles, record podcasts, and write Bible studies in hopes of increasing my Twitter following and enlarging my platform. I’ve convinced myself that this is helpful and good because I am pretty sure the world needs to benefit from my high view of the church and my biblical view of culture. I am pretty sure my platform is essential to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.
The church at Corinth wasn’t all that different—their church culture, revolved around the idea of platforms so much so that they positioned themselves over and against each other by which leader they followed, “What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ” (1 Cor. 1:12).
Paul then goes on to pull the rug out from under those who advocated for his personal platform, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17). In other words, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, in part, to challenge them to eschew his personal platform. Despite our love for Christian celebrities and high profile conversions, God does not and never has needed people with massive platforms and influence to advance His kingdom.
Sometimes I think we are so married to the idea of kingdom advancement by such large public platforms that we fail to see the upside down nature of the kingdom Jesus inaugurated and Paul preached about. We must not forget that gospel is “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles,” (1 Cor 1:23) a statement Paul made to a church that was in danger of splintering under the weight of competing platforms and arguments about spiritual best practices.
As followers of Christ, we should long for all people, including celebrities, to “reach repentance,” (2 Pet. 3:9). What is unhealthy, however, is to assume that Christ’s kingdom is in need of high profile conversions or is somehow undermined, on any level, by the moral failures of high profile Christians.
Whatever platform God has given you, by all means, leverage it for His glory. Use it to make much of Christ. However, the minute you or anyone who follows you, begin to think of your platform as indispensable to Christ’s kingdom, you have lost sight of the gospel.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
Christ doesn’t need me, He doesn’t you. On the contrary, He has chosen us, knowing exactly who we are—that we aren’t wise or eloquent but weak and insecure. He has chosen us and intends to use us to advance His kingdom through the proclamation of His gospel. Most of the people in our churches possess rather unimpressive platforms—they aren’t famous or important or even “Christian” famous. They are, however, in good company—by the world’s standards, Christ’s platform was rather unimpressive. If we hope to rightly advance and advocate Christ’s kingdom, it is essential that we acknowledge the expendable nature of our own personal platforms, lest “the cross be emptied of its power.”