The first time I was recognized was not as weird as I thought it would be. I guess in my head I envisioned my family and I would be walking in the mall and some stranger would exclaim, “Jon Acuff? The Jon Acuff? Wow, it is you!” Then I would blush and maybe shield my kids behind me with my arm because this person’s adoration would be so intense. They’d say, “Oh, please, say something that is both sarcastic and insightful at the same time. You’re so wise and adequately heighted.” I’d correct them on the use of the word “heighted,” which is actually not a word, and then I’d say two or three off-the-cuff sentences that would change their life, and then maybe sign their arm or a Bible if it were available. Seems like a pretty reasonable expectation, right?
It didn’t happen like that. A guy just walked up to me at church and introduced himself. We talked for a few minutes about Stuff Christians Like. The whole thing was over before I knew it and was pretty uneventful. Which is probably exactly how God wanted it.
I tend to get ego drunk pretty quickly. When people compliment me, outwardly I do the Christian courtesy of immediately rejecting the kind words. Inwardly, though, I’m often drinking in their kindness and doing a little “look how awesome I am” dance. I’m patting myself on the back with both arms and both legs at the same time, which is difficult but not impossible since I’ve taken yoga twice. (Which may or may not be “of the devil”–jury’s still out on that one.)
Knowing that about myself, knowing I’m prone to massive “me parades,” I am constantly wrestling with God over the unexpected growth of Stuff Christians Like. There’s a circle of famous Christians right now: big pastors, authors who have written amazing books, speakers who stalk conference stages like cougars. And I wanted to be inside it. Even though I think celebrity is the worst drug in Christianity right now, I wanted to become a famous Christian.
One night while jogging, I confessed that to God. As ugly and as shallow as this sounds, I said to Him, “God, I want my story to give me fame. I want fame. I want to be famous.”
In a split second, I felt like God laughed. Not at me, but with me, which is something I feel like He regularly does. In my heart, I heard:
“Ha! You want fame? The creator of the universe knows your name. The Alpha and Omega knows who you are and what you care about. That’s as famous as you’re ever going to be. Whose acknowledgment of you is going to stand up next to mine?”
At that point, I started laughing too, because He was right. I’m already famous. God knew me in the womb. He knows how many hairs are on my head. He’s my absolutely biggest fan, and I’m famous in His eyes. So are you. He’s got a blog about you that is simply astounding. He follows you on Twitter and started a fan group dedicated to you on Facebook. He can’t stop talking about you and pouring out love on you. Your so famous to God that he sent his only son for you. He launched a rescue mission for you. That’s true fame.
Will whatever you’re doing right now in life make you famous? Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But ultimately it doesn’t matter. As Christians, we’ve already peaked. We can stop worrying about trying to become famous Christians. That’s done.
We are all famous.