Today I’ve been thinking a lot about “image.” Yesterday I watched several interviews with this actor who professes to be a Christian (at least in articles I’ve seen) but when he speaks (though very gifted, charming, funny and handsome) I don’t see a whole lot of Jesus. He drinks, he swears, in general he talks just like anyone who doesn’t care much for God.
Please don’t stop reading, I’m not about to rant about this man’s shortcomings. He’s actually pretty amazing and I found myself envying him a bit. At the same time, I appreciate the goodness of blessing and the temporary nature of things like fame. It’s very possible that his heart is deep and full of the love of God.
Then, today I encountered another kind of Christian. This man is a pastor. What comes out of his mouth is misogynistic, homophobic, arrogant and unloving.
Both of these men have influence, both are gifted and well known, both profess to love Jesus. My mind wanted to judge between them. To decide about them….
But instead of doing that, there is a much more important question:
What does it mean to love Jesus?
I heard something really great during the last school that I staffed. The speaker said that a person’s ministry (or influence) should not exceed their character. Imagine if this were always the case?
I lean more toward those who are willing to let their faults be known, but among those of influence this often looks more like publicly enjoying sin than it looks like humble transparency.
So what does it mean to love Jesus in front of other people?
While this has been stirring in me today, I’ll be honest, I have considered that it would be so much easier to walk away from ministry. After all, I am really far from awesome. I write plenty of posts about the Bible and God and stuff, but none of these words do him justice. While I want to always be honest with you, I also want to be always more like Jesus. I could easily throw out the title of Christian as long as I could keep Jesus.
What the actor seems to miss (from my limited perspective) is that God is holy. What the pastor seems to miss (by a lot) is that God is loving.
I’m not interested in prudish abstinence or “righteous offense” against the sins of others. What I am interested in is knowing Jesus and helping others know him better. You and I sin. It’s messy. And sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it causes total destruction. There’s no excuse, but there is forgiveness, restoration, and total delight in the presence of God away from those things.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
~1 John 4:7-12
Love is not easy. It’s the hardest part, really. But I do see people living Jesus with their actions. I do see him working in and through others, through myself.
I see him.
And while I still feel a kind of turmoil about the foolish beggars and thieves that we all still are, I also feel hope that he won’t give up on any of us. Not the unholy actor or the unloving pastor, and not this broken missionary.