One of my favorite things to do with friends is play the game, “is that famous person a Christian?” We’ll just be hanging out and then someone will say, “Hey, is Bono a Christian?” And then, then my friend, the game is afoot.
We all start laying out the facts, the rumors, the lyrics to the songs. We’re like Encyclopedia Brown on the case. And the reason we do this is that we all have very sensitive “God-dar.” Not familiar with God-dar? It’s like radar but instead of using sonic frequencies to “see” objects as they approach, you use your heart to determine if someone famous is in fact Christian. And although I recently registered the site, God-dar.com I don’t have any content up there yet.
I think I need to though because yesterday I got a lot of “is Bono a Christian” emails and comments. Which was great because I had made a statement that he was and I need readers keeping me in check. But it also made me realize that maybe some people don’t have their God-dar set to the same frequencies as mine. So without further ado, here are some things you need to know when it comes to figuring out if a famous person is a Christian:
1. They say more than just “God.”
If you win a Grammy or an Oscar or other award, you almost have to thank God. Everyone does it. I love the idea that God is up there thinking, “Hey great, the director of the movie ‘Saw 3’ just gave me a shout out. Awesome.” But God isn’t enough, that shouldn’t set off your God-dar. If they say, “Jesus, Holy Spirit” or “Savior,” you might be seeing a famous Christian in action. And if they say anything that has the word “blood” in it like, “the blood of Jesus,” your God-dar should be lit up like a Christmas tree. For instance, when a girl named Lauren danced to the song “I can only imagine” last year on the best show in the world, So You Think You Can Dance, my radar went off because they say “Jesus” in the lyrics.
2. God as a marketing tool.
It wasn’t accidental that when Jessica Simpson first came out there was all this buzz about her being the “Christian version of Britney Spears.” I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me her dad was a former youth minister. Christians represent a huge pot of cash to a lot of marketers. The success of the movie “The Passion of The Christ” alerted a lot of people that there’s money to be made in creating Christian products. Don’t assume the label “Christian” means Christian.
3. They tell Larry King they are “spiritual not religious.”
I think what people mean when they say this is that they are not judgmental or close minded or all the other sucky things religion has been accused of in the last century. But this statement always clouds the God-dar like dropping a jar of strawberry jam on an air traffic controller’s monitor. It’s hard to figure someone out when they say this.
4. Psalms and Proverbs.
You will be tempted when you hear someone quote a Psalm or a Proverb to instantly believe they are Christian. Resist this temptation. People like Psalms because it is undeniably beautiful poetry and Proverbs can be quoted and taken out of context as easily as Confucius when it comes to smart life advice. If they quote from Joel or another lesser known book, they might be Christian.
A cross a Christian does not make. If they have a huge cross necklace, don’t assume that means they are a Christian. If said necklace is bedazzled in gems and diamonds and rubies that spell out, “Playa,” your God-dar should probably not being going off.
Same logic applies here. A cross tattoo or a Jesus fish or any other Christian symbol does not automatically make them a follower of Christ. Lil Wayne, the rapper, has Fear of God tattooed on his eye lids. Plus, if everyone that got a Chinese symbol tattoo was Chinese, then 98% of the people I see up in the dance clubs when I am making it rain would be Chinese. I’m kidding, I don’t go dancing much anymore and I never make it rain. I just try to work that phrase into as many posts as possible. On the other hand, if you have a tattoo like my buddy Carlos from Ragamuffinsoul it’s hard to deny who you roll with.
7. Who you hang with.
I was blown away by the Bono and Bill Hybels interview. In addition to the heartfelt message Bono shared about his faith, I take the Hybels stamp pretty seriously. Hybels is not in the practice of interviewing “wise” people. I don’t know of any examples where he says, “Let’s put God aside and just listen to this person who is really good and does lots of good things for the world. They’re not a Christian, but they’re good.” Is Hybels the final say on my God-dar? Not at all, but just like when celebrities start hanging out with Tom Cruise and John Travolta, when they hang with Hybels I factor that in. (If Hybels interviewed the Dalai Lama then I just put my foot in my mouth, didn’t I?) Update: (Apparently Bill is in the business of the “wise” person interview, which I am a fan of too having gone to some conferences that do that. This is just yet another example of Hybels foiling my plans like those kids in Scooby Doo.)
I could make this list about a billion items long and could say that if you like any of the other “stuff” on this site then are a Christian, but you know that’s not true. And honestly, this whole thing is kind of silly. I don’t know which celebrity is a Christian. I think for me, it’s a distraction. Worrying about whether celebrities are Christian or not is a great way to not think about the spiritual landscape of my own heart. And at the end of the day, God’s not going to ask me whether or not I thought Hannah Montana was a Christian.