What Would Jesus Say To…
January 13, 2013
Known for her fashion, her family and most of all for ‘being famous,’ Kim Kardashian is one of today’s most sought after celebrities. She’s adored by millions of fans around the world, and is instantly recognized on camera and on the street. So what would Jesus say to this modern day cultural icon?
In this message, Ed Young unpacks the reality of Kim Kardashian’s popularity. And as we discover the specific things Jesus might say to her, we hear some things that also apply to us. It just may not be what we’re expecting.
<video intro… fading music of David Bowie’s “Fame”>
That song brings back memories. Fame, by David Bowie. You ever heard that song before? I remember back in junior high school, Dent Junior High School in Columbia, South Carolina. We had our own radio station and every day at lunch, the lunch period would start out with David Bowie singing, “Fame!” I love it. Say it with me…1-2-3-Fame! Brilliant song.
We’re talking about fame today. We’re talking about Kim Kardashian. Curvaceous Kim Kardashian, marketing guru Kim Kardashian. What would Jesus say to Kim Kardashian? What a great question. I’m in a series called “What Would Jesus Say?” We’ve been talking about various icons, various celebrities. The ‘Ah-ha! moment’ in this series is a lot of people think, “Oh, you’re just gonna slam celebrities. We’re just gonna learn more and more about these people who are so popular.” Yeah, we’re gonna learn about them. The series, though, is about you and me because I would argue when we look at their lives, when we examine their lives, when we talk about, “Oh, I would never do that… I would never spend my money that way. I would never connect with that person. I would never, ever act that way if I had that kind of fame…” Really, they are representation of your life and mine. In reality we see ourselves in them. They’re just acting out on a world stage what the world is doing. So the ‘ah-ha! moment’ is that this series is about your life and mine. We see ourselves in all of these icons, whether it be Lance Armstrong in truth-telling, whether it be Kim Kardashian in her activities. We see ourselves.
Kim Kardashian, though, is an interesting personality. She has 17 million followers on Twitter. One of the most Google’d people in the world. She grew up in Beverly Hills, silver spoon in her mouth, her father the famed attorney. He was on O.J. Simpson’s legal defense team. He pretty much said, “Kim, when you reach 18 years of age, no longer can you live off the family dime.” You might be going, well how did Kim Kardashian become so popular? That’s a good question. We live in a culture today where a lot of people are famous for being famous. They’re popular for being popular. Some psychologists call it the Zsa-Zsa Gabor factor. Some of you remember Zsa-Zsa Gabor. Back in the day she married someone who was very famous. She parlayed that into a mediocre film career, but she was popular just for being Zsa-Zsa.
And a lot of people say, “Oh Kim, you’re just popular for being popular. You’re famous for being famous.” And here’s what Kim said about this phenomenon: “You know, when people say they’re just famous for being famous, what does that really mean?” I agree with Kim. Maybe Kim is famous for being famous. She’s parlayed her popularity. A savvy businesswoman, a brilliant marketer. She became famous, though (and this shocked me), when she dated Nick Lachey. You remember Nick Lachey? The ex-husband of Jessica Simpson? The paparazzi was following Nick and they were like, “Man, who is this curvaceous girl with Nick?” Kim Kardashian. From there the sex tape hit the market. From there, Playboy. From there, the hit show, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and then the stores and just the huge fees to appear at certain clubs and venues and then it began to roll. Now we have this celebrity known as Kim Kardashian. If you’ve never heard of Kim Kardashian, you’ve probably lived over the last several years in a cave in Nepal. That’s how popular Kim Kardashian really is.
So she was born in Beverly Hills. She was connected to someone famous. And as you study fame, and this kind of took me back on my heels, a lot of people who are famous are simply famous, they got their start, because they had some connection with someone famous. I found that interesting.
Now obviously some people are famous because of acting or because of business or because of athletics, but even those people, a lot of them got their start because someone famous saw them and now we have the game of fame. Kim Kardashian obviously is a very famous, famous young lady.
What would Jesus say to her, though? Ed, what would he say to her. How can you know what Jesus would say to Kim Kardashian? Simple. Read about Jesus. Read about the intersections in his lives as he talked to people, as he intersected his life with them, as he presented to them choices, as he told them statements. One of the things I believe Jesus would say to Kim Kardashian is, “Make me famous. Make me famous, Kim. Make me famous. If you’re really gonna be well-known you’ve gotta make me known.” That’s what Jesus would say.
If we’re well-known, and obviously Jesus knows us, he knows our strengths, our weaknesses, our fallen-ness, our problems, our sins. He knows us. So if we allow him to know us well then we can make him known, then we can make him well-known. If you think about the theology of fame, I think it’s a God-given gift that we have to want to be famous.
We grow up, we want to be recognized. And pretty much when we’re little our parents look at us and go, “Man, you’re awesome! You matter! You’re one of a kind!” Not perfectly but they try their best. Then as we get older and older we individuate and we go, “I want to become known. I want people to know me.” Then we want to become famous. It seems like in today’s world everybody wants to be famous.
There was a recent study in a psychological journal that said kids from ages 9, 10, and 11, kids are infatuated with popularity. And this study went on to say that the #1 value that kids 9, 10, and 11 years of age hold to is that of being famous. Isn’t that crazy?! Kids! #1 thing, being famous. Ten years ago, 15 years ago, the value of being famous was 15th. Today it’s #1.
“I want to be famous. When I’m famous I’ll have no worries. When I’m famous, everything will be great. When I’m famous I can walk down the primrose path of life.” Jesus would say, “Kim, make me famous.”
So wanting to be known and wanting to communicate and for others to recognize us is not sinful in and of itself. It’s a God-given gift. We’re wired, though, to make HIM (I’m talking about the Lord) well known. So when we allow him to know us well, then we can make him well-known.
Habakkuk 3:2, “Lord, I have heard of your fame. I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day. In our time make them known.”
Think about the enemy. Think about the devil, himself. Here’s Wikipedia. He was the worship leader in Heaven. Before the earth was created he was right there beside God, giving him glory, giving him fame, and what did the devil say? “You know what? I don’t like this. I’m gonna try to usurp him.” And from there he was kicked out of Heaven. He took a third of the angels with him. What was the situation? It was about fame. It was about popularity. He didn’t like the fact that God was getting it and he wasn’t.
So in our fallen-ness we have a freakiness about fame. We want to have a certain amount of followers. We want to be known and it starts very, very young. We want to be with the popular crowd, the people who are cool, who are hip, and we work and we strive and once we get there, what happens? Things change. It’s a sliding scale. Once we drink the drink… <glug, glug> of popularity and fame it doesn’t satisfy. It doesn’t quench our thirst and we want more and more and more and we never, ever arrive with this thing called fame and popularity.
Students, listen to me very, very carefully. It’s not worth it. You’re trying to impress someone right now, maybe you’re trying to be with the in-crowd, trying to fit in with this group or that group. It’s a formula for frustration!
When I went back to our reunion, my 30-year reunion! I remember walking around the party looking at people going, “I worried about impressing her? I was worried about what he thought of me?” These overweight, balding men and women? I couldn’t believe it! Make me famous, Jesus would say.
Also, “I value, Kim, I value your vulnerability.” Another thing he would say. “I value it.” Kim Kardashian, you can say a lot about her but she is vulnerable. A reality show. I mean she puts it all out there, doesn’t she? Interviews and blogs and Instagrams and Tweets and she is like, wow, just follow me. And we love it in our voyeuristic culture. She said it again about fame. “It all started when I went out on a date with Nick Lachey.” Of course the paparazzi took pictures because people were curious about who he was with.
Here’s some Fellowship trivia. Has Jessica Simpson ever attended Fellowship Church? Answer: Yes. There are a lot of celebrities who have cycled through Fellowship Church over the years and during this series I’ll try to throw out a couple of names. It might surprise you. It’s kinda surprising.
It was kinda funny. I remember her and some of the guys watched the video camera. She was with someone I will not name and she sat right over there and she had her head on his shoulder during the entire service. Anyway. That’s Jessica Simpson.
I value (it’s OK to laugh). I value your vulnerability. We’ve got to be vulnerable before God. God values that. People say, “This is great that you’re vulnerable.” But, “Make sure you’re vulnerable with me,” that’s what God would say. It’s great that you’re vulnerable with this company or on this movie set or at this reality show. Or maybe what you Tweet or what you Instagram but are you vulnerable with me?
I’ve gotta ask you that question, like I ask myself that question. Am I vulnerable with God? Are you vulnerable with God? What is being vulnerable? It’s like telling the truth before God about your condition. God’s not shocked, he’s not surprised. He knows what’s going on in every person’s life. And that’s a good thing. And I pray that Kim channels that into her relationship with God.
Another thing that Jesus would say to her. “Your past doesn’t determine your future. Your past doesn’t’ determine your future.” Here’s what she said after the sex tape with rapper Ray J and also the Playboy expose. “It definitely puts you in a category that I wish upon no one. Your reputation is all that you have and if people prejudge you over something that you did, then that kind of sticks with you a long, long time.”
We can all connect with Kim. We all have reputations. We all have things we’re ashamed of. We all have skeletons in our closet, don’t we? Yeah, I do. So do you. And one of the biggest lies that the enemy levels in your life and mine is the lie about our reputation. The lie about our past.
Remember, he’s all about fame. He wasn’t getting the props. He didn’t like God getting the props. He tried to usurp God, “I’m God!” he got kicked out of Heaven, a third of the angels left with him. Now what is he? He’s all about the father of lies. Because that’s who he is, that’s his nickname, that’s his native language. And he tells you and me, “God will never use you. You’re a no-count. God’s not gonna forgive you for that. Are you kidding me? What you did, what you thought, what you said, the way you acted. Who are you? Who are you that God can use you?!”
Well, don’t get in an argument with the enemy. All we have to do is point to the cross. All we have to do is point to the empty tomb. Because no matter what you’ve done or what I’ve done in the past, God is a God of the future. If we call out to him he will forgive us, he will cleanse us, he will power-wash our soul, he will change our lives. So don’t get in a conversation with the enemy. Don’t believe his lies. In other words, concentrate on the truth because the enemy’s gonna tell you, “Oh, you can seek fame. You can seek popularity. Turn your back on God. Do what I did.” Look where it got him. And it’ll get you and me in the same exact area.
Well, one day Jesus was going to Galilee and the Bible says that he had to go through Samaria. John 4:4, he had to go through Samaria. What does that mean? Samaria was a place that the Jews didn’t travel. The Jews were racists. The Samaritans were half-breeds, part Assyrian, part Jew, and they didn’t dig ‘em.
In fact, in John 8, one day someone tried to really tag Jesus with a hurtful name, some blogger. They called him a Samaritan. A Samaritan. We’re gonna see here that Jesus is no respecter of persons. Jesus crossed through social barriers, racial barriers, he totally blew the doors off the whole Jewish racism thing. And the Bible says Jesus had to go, he HAD to go, through Samaria. It’s not the easiest way. And as we follow Christ it so often is not the easiest way.
He was tired and weary, the Bible says. And I love John. John always talks about the humanity of Jesus. Jesus, fully God, also fully man. He took on the limitations of the flesh. And notice here in the Bible it says in John 4, “Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.” He was by himself. You might be going, where was his posse? What were his boys doing? They were in town at Whataburger buying some food. They hadn’t eaten for a long, long time. They were ordering this and that and Jesus is sitting there by the well, expecting no one. Because who comes up to a well to draw water at noon? Triple-degree heat. I mean the ladies come out in the morning and evening to draw water but no one during the middle of the day.
Christ is sitting there, tired. Suddenly he sees the woman drawing water. Why would a women show up at noontime to draw water? Because this woman, we’re gonna find out, was famous for her immorality. She was famous for her sexual sin. She was famous because she moved from bed to bed to bed. She didn’t want to be noticed. She didn’t want the other women to talk about her. She didn’t want to be persecuted. She didn’t want to be messed around. She had a bad reputation.
Jesus, obviously a Jew by the way he’s dressed. Jesus, a rabbi, asked her a question. Now we think, oh what’s the big deal about that? She’s come to the fountain to get a drink of water and Jesus asked her a question. And all he said was, “Can I have some water?” Well, back in this day for a Jew to even talk to a woman, to ask a Samaritan woman a question? That was totally, totally from left field. So let’s read, she says in John 4:9, “Why are you asking me for a drink?” and Jesus replied, “if you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to you would ask me and I would give you living water.”
So here she is talking about physical water and Jesus is talking about living water. Why did Jesus go through Samaria? He had to. He had to. He knew of this divine appointment, this intersection, this intersection. And I think it’s interesting that the cross is in the shape of an intersection. He knew he would have an opportunity to share the living water with this woman who was totally in the deep weeds. She had her free will. He was not gonna override her free will, yet he presented her with the opportunity for living water. Because basically he was saying, “Hey, the water you’ve been drinking from, moving from buzz to buzz, from sexual hit to sexual hit, from conquest to conquest, from relationship to relationship, it’s not satisfying your thirst.” But she doesn’t get what he’s talking about.
So then Jesus goes on, he begins to explain himself. Look at verses 13-14. “Anyone who drinks this water, this physical water, will soon become thirsty again.” And we know that. “But those who drink the water I give them will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them giving them eternal life.” And then he begins to explain to her as you read in the Scriptures about salvation would come from the Jews and so forth and so on, and as he begins to talk to her I think the lights sort of start coming on. Initially she’s thinking about physical water. Jesus is talking about spiritual water. And now she goes, “Whoa. He’s not talking about sparkling water, he’s not talking about bottled water, he’s not talking about tap water or well water, he’s talking about living water!” Then Jesus compassionately allows the conviction to occur in her life. Let me say that again. Jesus compassionately allows the conviction to occur in her life. Because there is no conversion without conviction.
Kim Kardashian will not be converted until Kim Kardashian is convicted. You’re not gonna become converted if you do not know Christ until you’re convicted of your sin. When I was converted I was convicted of my sin.
We don’t like to talk about it. It’s not a popular subject. If you don’t believe me, listen to her response. Jesus said, “Hey, go and get your husband.” And then this woman utters the shortest phrase in the entire dialogue. “I have no husband.” I have no husband. Oh really? All right. Jesus said, “You’re right. You don’t have a husband (verse 17, now look at verse 18). You’ve had 5 husbands and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth.” I love her vulnerability, don’t you? Here this lady is famous for immorality. Christ is famous for his morality. Now you have her vulnerability. I mean this is awesome! “You’re right. Wow.”
Some people say, “Well I can become a believer. I can get converted whenever I want to.” It sounds great. But it’s not in the Bible. There has to be an intersection, there has to be an exchange. Your path might cross someone who knows Christ. And if your path crosses someone who knows Christ, the cross will cross your path. You either respond to it or not. The wonderful thing about this lady is she is vulnerable. She’s popular for her promiscuity. But now we see she is honest about herself and who she has been with. Her conscience has been quickened and she’s gonna respond.
When your path crosses someone who shares with you Jesus and the cross crosses your path, you have a choice to make. You either come clean… you say, “I have a reputation, a past,” or you don’t. You either take a step to follow Christ or you distance yourself from him. It’s a choice that we make. And in this dialog the woman tries to get Jesus off subject when he begins to talk to her about her sin. When he begins to talk to her about her behavior, when he begins to talk to her about her rogue ways.
She’s like, “You know, uh… should the Samaritans worship here or the Jews worship over there?” and she wanted to get into this deep theological discussion. Jesus listened, nodded his head, agreed, then he brought her back to the issue. This issue was this person’s life. The issue was, was she willing to surrender herself to the person of Christ?
Those of us who are believers, those of us who are Christ-followers, we have divine appointments all the time. We’re living life, we’re doing life. And so often we have to go to places and we’re in places that are tough. I want to tell you based on scripture that you go there, that I go there, for a reason, and that is to share the good news of Jesus. Because our paths, if you’re a Christ-follower, don’t just cross. It’s a divine appointment. And the cross – because you carry it and I do, too – crosses people’s paths. The question is what do we say? What do we do? What kind of dialogue do we get involved in?
Earlier, Jesus met a very affluent religious leader, Nicodemus. And he started talking to Nicodemus about being born, born again. Nicodemus was like, “You can’t get born again!” Jesus was like, “No, I’m talking about spiritual rebirth.”
Now he’s using water with this woman at the well, this Samaritan.
“Hey, you can have living water!”
“What? Yeah, give me a drink of living water. It’ll make life easier. I won’t have to come to this well every day at noontime.”
“No! I’m talking about spiritual water.”
Jesus, always using illustrations, things that people could connect with. What are you using? What am I using as our paths cross with others?
You might be someone like the woman at the well. You might be someone seeking. You might be someone like Kim Kardashian. And hopefully Kim will watch this online, but again, I ask you, maybe you’re like the woman at the well. Maybe you’re like Kim Kardashian. Maybe you have a past. Maybe you have a reputation. Maybe you’ve done things you’re like, “Man, I don’t know. You mean Jesus wants to meet me?”
If you understand the fact that you’re made to make Jesus know, if you understand the fact that he wants you to be vulnerable before him, if you understand the fact that your past doesn’t determine your future, there’s no telling what will happen with you.
This lady came to know Christ. How do we know that? She left her water jar at the well. She told Jesus, “You must be the Messiah.” She tried to get him off-subject, he brought her back to this connectivity. She left her bucket at the well, ran to the village. Now she had a wellspring inside of her life. She shared her life change with the village. And the village people are looking at her (not the band) the village people are looking at her and they’re going,
“Girl! Here you were famous for your immorality, something has happened in your life!” And she said,
“Come and see! This guy told me everything about my life.”
Now the disciples make their way back with big bags of Whataburger, those big grease spots at the bottom of the bag. They’re finally there.
“Jesus, we got you what you ordered. Did you want fries? Yeah, I bought you, here’s some fries.” And Jesus is like,
“Guys! You’re talking about spiritual food and I’m talking about spiritual food. You’re talking about nourishment, I’m talking about real nourishment. We’ve been talking about water here, I’m talking about living water. Look! Look!” and the people were flooding towards Jesus.
“The fields are white unto harvest.” And the Bible says because of this woman’s testimony, telling others what had happened to her, that scores and scores of people became followers of Christ. Jesus stayed there for two days and it was just crazy, crazy concert of conviction and conversion.
What would Jesus say to Kim Kardashian? Well, what would he say to you? What would he say to you? Make me famous. You’ll never be known until you’ve made him well-known. Have you allowed him to come inside your heart of hearts? Have you given him the totality of who you are? Have you gotten vulnerable before God?
“You’re God. I’m not.” Have you moved on? Even though your past is checkered, even though your reputation isn’t the best, make this day a game-changer, a pivot point in your life when you go God’s way. And I’m telling you something. You’ll be well-known by the Savior of the world as you make him well-known. Because that’s what fame is all about.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]