And you know, I can’t answer that. But I can tell you who my celebrity is.
If Jesus had come to the United States instead of Bethlehem to save the world, he probably would’ve come to Nebraska. This would’ve made up for all the jokes I’ve made about Nebraska over the last ten years, since hosting the Savior beats laughs about the huddled mass of people called Omaha in the bottom corner of the state, mundaneness, and the productivity of corn. I’ll take corn with a Savior in a field any day. But that’s not the point.
If Jesus were to come here, he would turn every cultural paradigm we know upside down. From unceremonious beginnings to flash-bang endings.
We love our institutions. He’d say a degree means nothing, only the value of a heart open to learning the wisdom of God.
We love our toys. He’d tell us to go sell our yacht and come follow him.
We love our entertainment. He’d remark that he’s surprised by the sharpness of our HD flat screen TVs, and then tell us to invite the poor and destitute in to a feast of barbeque chips and dogs to sit and ogle it.
But for some odd reason, perhaps most of all, we LOVE our celebrities.
He’d tear that one down too. Sorry Miley, Justin, and Kim. You’re on the short list of people getting axed by Jesus’ speech on why it is better to be poor in spirit than attend parties where you’re not allowed to take pictures of the host.
In fact, if Jesus had come to America, he’d probably have changed even our most beloved Bible stories.
The Good Samaritan becomes The Good Hipster. Not an enduring title, but neither would Samaritan be if you’d lived in Bible times (oh hipsters, I hope you see how I’m making fun of you — says the guy who currently sports a mohawk).
See, the guy left for dead wouldn’t be a Jew on his way to Jerusalem today. In a modern retelling of the Good Samaritan in America, he’d more likely be a Starbucks barista. Imagine dealing with people who order iced Americanos with a double shot of espresso and cream and sugar all day.
And that, my quirky hipster friend, is why the Starbucks barista is my celebrity.
Because I think she would’ve been Jesus’ too.
Let me explain.
Jesus’ gospel was never about idolizing the popular. There was no room for worship of Brangelina, Beliebering, or even Tebow fanaticism (sorry wife!) in the gospel of meek and those who mourn.
In fact, James — Jesus’ brother — said:
Believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism….If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2.1,3-4)
Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2.5)
God chose the poor in the eyes of the world. Not celebrities. Quite the opposite, in fact. And I think you should, too. In your heart, as well as in your actions.
But God does want you to be fanatical about people. Take a look:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22.36-40)
He put that right up there on a short list with fanatically loving God. He just doesn’t want you to choose like the world does.
That’s why my celebrity is the Starbucks barista.
Sure, she’s got a shaved head, makes sugary burnt-roast peppermint mocha (my favorite), and is all around awesome. But that’s not why I chose her. It’s because I recently adopted a philosophy. It’s a combination of wisdom and attitude I’ve picked up from others over the years, and now it’s become a personal Fool philosophy.
I try to make every person I meet the most important person of my day.
Yep, my rich man from James, my football star with the ESPN contract. I don’t scream or blush or ogle from a distance, taking selfies that happen to be pointed in their direction while turning them into inconspicuous twenty yard photo bombs. But in a certain, unmistakable way, I make them my celebrity (I fail at this too).
I don’t have time to worship every person on TV, so instead I’m going to fall over myself making the person in front of me feel like one.
Jesus would call them my neighbors.
This is the 21st Century. I don’t hardly talk to my neighbors. But celebrities beckon for my admiration from every aisle of every grocery store and every channel on TV.
I give mine to the man at the counter of the local lunch deli or pub. The one with the apron.
If you want to, you can point out how cool American celebrities are to Jesus when he comments on the picture quality of our HDTVs — and spit out a few OMGs!!! along the way, if that’s how you want to roll with this faith and American culture thing.
My guess is he’ll respond exactly like he did when the disciples did the same thing:
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Matthew 24.1-2)
Everything from this culture will be thrown down. Every celebrity dropped from A-lister to unknown, every university, college, and seminary bull-dozed to the ground, every TV fallen from its wall perch.
But the one thing that’ll remain is love.
Something you can’t give to a person in a gown on a red carpet, but you can give to the girl with an apron behind the counter, as she sets aside her day to put a shot of espresso in your caramel macchiato.
And I bet she deserves it a heck of a lot more.
So Here’s How to Make the Starbucks Barista Feel Like Your Celebrity
- Greet her with a smile, rather than expecting it the other way
- Ask her about herself, ask her about her day — spend a moment to care
- Pretend she’s the owner; you’ll notice how quickly your attitude changes
- Imagine she’s famous — she is to her friends and family — this is the red carpet, you are her fan
- Treat her like she’s your best friend — because she’s God’s
No, the Starbucks barista isn’t my neighbor. In this drive-thru latte age, I don’t have a clue where she lives. I probably never will, to be honest, because no one follows her with a camera and she never appears on a big screen.
But that doesn’t stop her from owning the world for a day.
Because in the story of The Good Hipster, the Starbucks barista is a celebrity.