Christian Idolatry on Instagram & Beyond


A little alarm has begun to sound in my heart at times I’m scrolling through Instagram. Never when I am viewing a picture of someone I know, but almost without fail each time I see a picture a christian public figure or “celebrity” posts.

It’s the comments I read from followers on these feeds that scares me. Here’s a few:

I’m sooooo jealous!

So perfect and beautiful! 

I would give anything to hang out with you!

I would die if I ran into you. Love your ministry!

We worship quick and easy.

What alarms me is how as worshippers, we are setting up some of our favorite people to fall. Rather than solely looking to these people as communicators of God’s truths, we are looking to them as the objects of our worship. Idolizing. Wanting to know where they bought their jeans. And oohing and ahhing over their hair and the big names they know. We don’t even realize we are doing it.

Do we become so devoted to the person teaching the Word of God that we begin to forget they are fallible? They are human. Sinful like us.

Do we begin to take their words as gospel truth? Do we take off our hats of discernment and believe everything they speak?

Most importantly, do we spend more time worshipping them than praying for them? The enemy seeks to devour those who will teach the Word of God. When we as believers forget to cover them in prayer and take it a step further and shift our focus from worshipping God to worshipping the communicator, we are helping to lay the trap.

Andy Stanley came under quick fire for careless statements he made from the pulpit. I appreciate the boldness of people like Voddie Baucham who were quick to rebuke teaching that is in error. The thing that saddened me was how quick people were to do two things: 1) Lash out harshly and unlovingly 2)Look past the error in what he said because they are fully devoted to him as a person.

While I appreciate Andy’s apology and explanation, I still feel he left much unspoken. On a friend’s Facebook page, I commented “While his response and apology are nice, the bottom line is that it’s not the church’s role to raise kids with a deep faith….it’s the parents job. To suggest that parents should attend a church based on what their children need in a youth ministry is unbiblical. Church is where we go to worship God and fellowship with believers, not to get served and entertained. Still feel much left here unaddressed. At the same time, he’s a pastor….human, prone to mistakes.
Our role is to recognize what doesn’t align with God’s Word, forgive, and move on. I imagine being in his position is not easy at all!”

God’s Word says a few things about raising our kids in faith, and a thriving, large youth group is never mentioned. Deut 11:19, Deut 6:7.

Once when our boys were very small, we were looking for a church. We shared with a friend our list of requirements we wanted met. He listened patiently before correcting me. “You know, the church’s role is to preach to the believer, to equip the believer to go out and make disciples. It is not the role of the church to raise your children to love the Lord. The church will equip you to make disciples of your kids.”

His correction sent me to the scriptures myself.

When a christian public figure or a pastor or anyone teaching God’s Word speaks and something in our spirit feels poked, we need to go to God’s Word. It’s a dangerous place to believe everything as truth and not compare it to the Word of God.

That is only one issue. The issue that is saddening my heart is how we as believers are aiding God’s gifted servants to fall into the traps laid by satan by our hearts of worship misplaced.

I appreciate the humility of Andy Stanley in quickly apologizing and taking ownership.

Our pastors and christian communicators need our faithful prayers more than they need our worship. They need to be encouraged by us not flattered by us. Flattery is dangerous. It’s a trap satan places that will whisper to the pride and ego in each of us.

My challenge to us is to not raise these people up higher than they need to be risen. When we are lavishing our praise for these public figures each time they post a picture, we are flattering them not encouraging them. Encourage your pastor or favorite christian public figure by telling them how God used them to show you something. They need the encouragement. They don’t need the empty flattery, though if we are honest, we all like the flattery.

I’m not at all saying the Andy Stanley issue has anything to do with what I’m seeing on Instagram. The point I want to make is this. Be careful what we worship. Test everything with scripture. Pray and encourage, don’t idolize.

Satan is a deceiver and manipulator. He wants our leaders and communicators of the Word to fall. Let’s lift up those the Lord has called and equipped to proclaim His Word. Let’s be careful not to pour out words that will inflate them and set them up for a fall. The most loving thing we can do for those in the public eye for the Lord is to pray for them and encourage them.