We live in a celebrity culture. A trip to the local library, a button pushed on the television remote, or logging in to Twitter gives any one of us access to famous people. The free access to the words and images of politicians, singers, actors, and writers provides a false sense of familiarity. As a reader, at times it is easy for me to believe that I "know" men like John Piper, Eugene Peterson, and Tullian Tchvidjian. But I don't. Even Larry Crabb, Curt Thompson, and Eric Johnson--Christian authors with whom I interact more regularly--I do not know with the same level of intimacy with which I know my family, my friends, and my home church.
I am afraid that the celebrity culture in which we live promotes a false hope. We hang on the words these people share with us, often forgetting that what they choose to share is carefully measured. They let us see what they want us to see. Even when controversy hits the information we receive is filtered.
But real people, the people with whom you live real life, are messy. They sin against you. You sin against them. We are often unkind, unforgiving, negligent, and downright mean. That's not the way it is supposed to be, but that is the way it is this side of heaven. These are the communities in which God has placed us. So the next time you see someone from afar and wish you could be closer to them, remember they too are messy.
Real life isn't living above the mess, but learning to live with hope in the middle of it.