It is said that Paris Hilton is famous … for being famous. She is a celebrity because she is a celebrity. Her main claim to fame is that she is, well, ... famous.
More generally it seems that today in our culture we honour those who are prominent in the media, such as actors, or musicians. We honour and revere our celebrities.
It seems to me that what we need today are not more celebrities … we need heroes. We need men and women whose example inspires us and motivates us to do what they did.
In Hebrews chapter 11, the famous chapter on faith, we read not about celebrities, but about heroes of faith. We read of people like Abraham, who obeyed God even though he did not know where he was going.“I’ll know it when I see it” was his motto as God led him to the promised land.
One of my heroes is William Clowes, a pioneer and founder of the Primitive Methodist movement. In his young adult years he led a life of violence, often fuelled by alcohol. He led a decadent lifestyle and was known for his drunkenness, swearing and fighting. After a prank gone wrong he was forced to leave Hull in the northeast of England in 1805.
Shortly afterwards he had a radical conversion to Jesus Christ, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and became a leading Primitive Methodist preacher. The man of violence became an apostle of Jesus Christ. In January 1819, he returned to Hull, in radically different circumstances.This time he came as a preacher of the gospel.
William Clowes preached in the open air, in the market place, in farmers’ fields, barns, sheds, factories or any other convenient location. Within seven years from his return to Hull, he was instrumental in making 12,000 converts and members of the Primitive Methodist movement.
He died in 1851 and a chapel in Hull was named the Clowes Memorial chapel in his honour. His memorial states "that he was a burning and shining light".
He is a hero of the faith. We need men and women like him today.