Fame might seem like magic formula to wealth and popularity to some. Others will think of celebrity status as a horrible nightmare.
Consider the celebrity who walks into a room of strangers, knowing no-one; but, everyone knows him or her. In contrast, look at the introverted person who appreciates privacy and anonymity: the prospect of universal face recognition would be frightening.
Now, consider the person who loves the spotlight, celebrity status and all of the trappings of fame and fortune. And, by the way, may I introduce you to Simon the Sorcerer! This is how I read Luke’s detailed description of a man whose pride and egocentrism would have been legend in Acts 8:9-13.
Whenever Simon the Sorcerer would walk into a room. Luke assures us that Simon had been well known by every person in the room–rich and poor–in Samaria, for some time. Boasting of his own greatness people associated him with a ‘Great Power’ that came from God. His sorcery amazed everyone. People actually followed this narcissist, waiting for the next magic trick!
PEOPLE FOLLOWED HIM
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.ACTS 8:9-13
THE SIDONIANS & GNOSTICISM
Less than 100 years later Justin Martyr and, later, Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Epipihanius would refer to this “Simon Magus“ who started a movement of people known as “the Simonians.” They would provide the impetus for many of the syncretistic Gnostic beliefs that would later plague the early church.
Assuming that the reports of these early church writers is accurate, Simon the Sorcerer never understood some of the basic tenants of the Christian faith. These begin with the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12 and the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.
How difficult would it be to choose to devolve from incredible celebrity status to humble servant?
Just ask Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,(Philippians 2:6-8)
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
It would seem that Simon Magus never got the memo.
Of course, the next question that follows, naturally, is “How am I doing with the changes I must make to become what God is calling me to be?”