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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

Never miss a thing!

 

Is Russell Brand the crest of a post-secular wave?

Last week, the former playboy, and substance-abusing comedian-turned-guru Russell Brand got baptised. Not since Kanye West dropped Jesus is King has a conversion been met with such a mix of excitement and suspicion – excitement because Brand is a public figure with a major following, and suspicion because multiple allegations of sexual assault have been made against him (which he continues to deny) and he’s a notorious believer in conspiracy theories.

And yet, without downplaying this, one thing seems clear: hitting rock bottom last year, and exhausting the meaning that could be drawn from his ‘decadent materialistic lifestyle’, led Brand to Jesus. In fact, he’s not alone: newspaper columns, research reports, and anecdotal evidence suggest a rising number of young people are dissatisfied with the secular script handed to them and the lack of answers it provides for life’s struggles. Instead, they’re turning heavenwards.

As Brand puts it, ‘without some sense of a deeper truth or meaning to life there’s only hedonism’, which leaves us empty. In that discovery lies God’s call:

‘You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.’ (The Message, Matthew 5:3–4)

No one is too far gone that the grace of God cannot find them. Luke 15 highlights this essential truth: whether we’re the sheep who’s wandered from the fold, the coin who’s been neglected by others, or the son who’s rebelled – God loves finding the lost.

As Russell Brand experienced, we need God’s love to meet us where we’re at. And, as he found in Bear Grylls, we also need a loving community to model this love to us. As someone on my own journey of loving, leaving, and finding the church again, I think this is where the church stands apart from other cultural institutions: anyone is welcome. The weird, the broken, the cancelled – anyone.

But we, the church, needn’t wait for ‘the lost’ to come to us – we meet them every day. If Brand can realise his need for something more than secularism, then perhaps my neighbour, my friend at yoga, or the checkout assistant at Tesco might do, too. As we scatter, we are bearers of God’s heart in word and deed. It’s a heart for everyone – including, of all people, Russell Brand.

Ennette Lainchbury
Emerging Generations Champion, LICC

Comments

  1. If this is true great! PTL! However, we are about making disciples, which means helping people change their lives to live by Biblical principles etc. Sadly, today so many church leaders and others are afraid to lovingly point to the things in others’ lives that need to be changed by the Spirit of God that we are not bold enough – for fear of being told we are judgemental – to show people how they should live. It’s no wonder we are not seeing the church (Kingdom of God) grow more rapidly.

    By Peter Day  -  10 May 2024
  2. Great piece Ennette!! My experience as a Pastor over the last few years is that more and more ‘broken’ people are finding their way into our church community! I know we’re all broken but many that have connected with us have come from really broken places or habits.
    I remember Russell Brand saying, “Every man who knocks at the door of a brothel is looking for Jesus.” Russell may be controversial but is he more like the woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair? (He has the hair for it!) But seriously – thank God that Jesus is a friend to the most broken, controversial, conspiracy believing and hedonistic of us! Maybe it’s time for us, the church to lose our reputation and actually share life with tax collectors and sinners!

    By Steve  -  10 May 2024

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