“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
The word matters.
Tyler Perry is not your typical or average man in the Christian circle. With a net worth of $400 million, a company which he currently is CEO of, Tyler Perry is the complete opposite of what we would call an “average” believer. Of course this has absolutely nothing to do with Perry’s ability to entertain, and entertain he does. From his role in David Fincher’s suspense drama “Gone Girl”, where he starred alongside Hollywood hitter Ben Affleck, to his Madea films, Perry has a lot of things going for him. From his instrumental work with the NAACP, multiple charities, to his own work not with his Tyler Perry Foundation. Tyler Perry is making his mark in the world, yet also in the church as well.
With spiritual leaders such as Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes, Perry has aligned himself within the ranks of Christianities most notable personalities, yet he does not preach the word of God. So why is his influence within the church world become important? Because leadership as well as our culture within the church has took a man which only professes Christ in open confession, to portraying him as someone to follow. Make no mistake, Tyler Perry’s influence in certain aspects of Christianity, his associations with Osteen and Jakes, not to mention his personal friendship with Oprah, makes Tyler of extreme importance, even though he has never ventured into the role of spiritual leadership.
So why then is Tyler Perry important to the church world today? It’s obviously not because of his financial worth, or how he started out in extreme poverty, nor is it his years as a struggling writer, so why does he matter? The answer is found not so much what he has accomplished in life, as it’s more about what he is presenting that makes him relevant in our current culture of easy grace-ism.
In 2005, then indie-director Tyler Perry had just came off with his first major triumph with his comedy film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, depicting Tyler’s past work with his off-Broadway plays, Perry stumbled upon success, he found a niche that was ripe for the picking. In an interview at that particular time, Perry stated concerning his faith, “It is extremely important. I am a Christian, I am a believer, and I know had I not been a person of faith, I couldn’t be here in this place, and I wouldn’t be walking the path that I’m on now. And I think the greater good of the path I’m on now is to teach people to learn to forgive and move on, in a way that’s done through the healing power of humor.” (source)
Being considered the #1 Christian film producer in Hollywood, it was obvious to many Perry was wanting to use his faith as a means to not only relate to a secular world his beliefs in a more comedic way through story telling, but he was telling the Christian world that he was a devote follower of Jesus Christ. So when news broke within the past week of his announcement that he and his girlfriend was expecting their first child, then it caused many to become confused with the news two individuals were having a child yet were not even married, nor have they even considered marriage. (source)
Which brings me to the core issue of transparency in the faith. The news made by someone famous (in this case Tyler Perry by his own admission) within Christianity yet not holding up the values of the Christian faith, even furthering the damage being done by his witness to the world, is more symptomatic of a more deeper problem found in much of the church today, a lack of genuine expression of the faith by those who claim to be genuine followers of that same faith.
The apostle Paul deals with this matter of those who claim genuine expression of the faith in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 when he said that, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”
The Greek word for transform means metamorphoō or to change, transfigure, transform. That reference in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 is the same Greek word that we see in the above verses – “disguise”. We see that same Greek meaning of the word metamorphoo in Matthew 17:2 we read the following verse “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Here we have the expressive use of the word transfigured, it is the same Greek word which has two word meanings, one which implied of an outward expression, while the other word of the same Greek meaning refers the implication of a changed of activity. What Matthew was implying was simple, Jesus changed the expression of his deity on the mount of transfiguration to reveal who he really was – God. Not only God, but the son of God. So we have two functions of these words, one meaning to hide the real, while revealing the hidden, one (Jesus) was hiding his divine nature and Satan hiding his true nature.
This leads us back to Paul’s warning in Romans 12:2, not to assume an outward expression which aligns itself with the evil of the world. It is this warning by the apostle Paul not to conform to the patterns of this age, it’s fashion, its speech, its ideas, its desires and its beliefs. Ours is a way of Christ who, in his most expressed form of humanity, walked without sin, by doing so, he gave us clear instruction that his expressed path was the one to follow. Which leads us back to Mr. Perry and his announcement of his sexual sins.
When individuals claim to have a knowledge of Christ, but they by their own expression of outward action, reveals their inward expression of spiritual identity, then it becomes clear who they really are. It’s not about Perry living with his girlfriend as it’s more about his shrug of spiritual responsibility to walk in the most genuine expression of Christ likeness. When someone claims they are a believer – as Perry has done, yet by their own expressive action and behavior they walk counter to the teachings of the word of God, then we must conclude one thing – another metamorphoo, a deceit is at play. This is the reason why Paul warned in Galatians 1:8 and repeated in verse 9 to beware of another gospel. The truth is, and I fear is the only answer to why Tyler Perry, and many within the Christian faith sticking up for him is due in part of the sinister act of another gospel being presented, to which even Tyler has become victim to.
When many within the church world begins to praise and exhort individuals who claim to be a disciple of Christ, yet their lives express another statement, then the possibility is Perry and those like him have been seduced by another gospel, another Christ. Yet this is what we are told would begin to occur in the last days, that many would depart from the truth, leaving the faith to follow their own brand of spirituality without restriction, without guidance and without care. As more follow, the trail to deception will be great and many I fear will follow the same path Perry is walking. That’s why Tyler Perry matters.