If British comedian Russell Brand (of the movie “Get Him to the Greek”) can be crude, he can also be downright hilarious, as evidenced by the below videos. ”We’ve Got To Do Something” and “African Child” are ridiculously funny caricatures of celebrities and rock stars who trumpet their various “do-good” crusades in high-profile ways. (I considered posting the whole Youtube clip of “African Child,” but because some of the later parts may really offend some of you, I’ve gone with this abbreviated version.)
But, as I watch these I can’t help but see some biblical irony in Brand’s critique. Isaiah 64 describes “all our righteous acts” as little more than “dirty rags.” Even our best works- maybe especially when we do them in plain view for all to see- are little more than efforts to justify ourselves. To make ourselves look good or earn ourselves a distinguished reputation.
And it seems Brand’s lampooning need not be reserved just for celebrity rock stars. It might also be generously dished out to celebrity pastors and churches whenever they run up the flagpole a particular cause. After a while they can start sounding an awful lot like Brand’s “African white space Christ” (for full context you’ll have to check out the full Youtube click, without my endorsement, of course).
In short, there’s a lesson in addition to the laughter here: God’s mission asks us to leave our self-inflated “do-good” impulses and savior complexes at the door, even as it gestures to a non-negotiable life of service to God’s world.