So I assume most people have heard the news about Ray Boltz by now. As I have had some time to think about this, a couple of questions come to mind. Ray talks about his conversion experience and says “
Boltz injured his back in 1972 and was in the hospital when a visiting minister invited him to Jacob’s Well, a Christian coffeehouse in nearby Harper City, Ind. When Boltz recovered, he checked it out, saw gospel group the Fisherman perform and had a life-altering experience.
“That evening had a profound impact on my life,” he says. “I realized that this was the truth and that Jesus was alive … that’s really where I made a commitment to Christ. I decided I could be born again and all of the things I was feeling in the past would fall away and I would have this new life.”
He became a regular at Jacob’s and met Carol Brammer at its upstairs Christian bookstore later that year. They attended Bible studies together and eventually wed in 1975.
Contrast this with
Not many in CCM seemed to think anything was awry. Boltz says people just assumed he was ready for a break after so many years on the road.
The early months in Florida felt strange and different, but also liberating.
His faith was in transition — tenants he’d adhered to all his life suddenly were up for reconsideration, but there was a peace he hadn’t felt before.
“I had a lot of questions [about faith], but at the bottom of everything was a feeling that I didn’t hate myself anymore, so in that sense I felt closer to God.”
Boltz declines to go into specifics about the first time he was with a man, but says he has been dating and lives “a normal gay life” now.
What happened? I believe the Christian Community is more concerned with celebrity than with biblical living. What do I mean? Ray evidently lost his first love. If there was such a profound conversion, why did he then feel like there was no power in the Gospel? Could it be that we put him on a pedestal as someone who had all the answers and put him in a position to not be able to deal with all of his issues? Maybe our love of celebrity has once again fostered an atmosphere where people want to go hear a “guru” give us something profound. This does nothing but isolate the “guru” and leave the followers wanting more.
Jesus gave us instruction on how to not fall into these traps. He told us to 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Amen. Matt. 28 19-20. If we were more concerned with disciple making, we would not get caught up in the worldly desire of celebrity. Discipleship requires us to get real with people and share our burdens, not just travel from town to town giving our little gospel nuggets and moving on to the next crowd.
The Apostle Paul addressed this very issue of celebrity in 1Corintians when he said: 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
Our desire for celebrity makes “the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” Wow, let that sink in.
I pray for Mr. Boltz. I pray that he will take his eyes off his selfishness and re-connect with the Christ of his conversion. But shouldn’t that be the prayer we all pray? Lord please deliver me from my selfishness.
I pray for the people that his celebrity has led astray, and I pray that we never give up on the fight of sin just because it is hard.