Confessing My Christian AgendaFriday, May 22, 2015
One of my favorite comedians is Jim Gaffigan. You have to be truly funny to generate laughs and be “clean” in your act. And now the truth is coming out. Jim Gaffigan is a Christian! He is introducing a new TV show this summer called the Jim Gaffigan Show. I promise you he is a more creative comic than TV show-namer. One of the issues he will address on the show is the challenge of being branded by his faith.
One episode plot explores the risk when a popular entertainer comes out as religious. In the show Gaffigan is accidentally photographed carrying a massive Bible. There is subsequent comedic panic about public opinion about him after that career faux pas.
Washington Post religion writer Michele Boorstein featured this snippet of dialogue from the show.
““I don’t want to get involved in the culture war. Religion is a very iffy business. As soon as you identify yourself as believing something, you open yourself to ridicule,” he tells his wife and her friend on the show.”
I understand that completely. I am certainly a Z minus celebrity to Gaffigan’s A-List status but the nurturing commentators of the internet still take the time to let you know how narrow minded you are. Recently I was “outed” when a reviewer discovered that the bulk of my new book “Stay: Lessons My Dogs Taught Me about Life, Loss, and Grace” was my particular brand of conservative religious beliefs. After being exposed I had to act quickly.
When I became aware that word of my Christianity was out I went to the secret underground bunker where we all meet to plan how to advance our agenda.
“I have been outed!” I told the group.
“They know?”, they asked.
“I’m afraid so. Should I come clean?”
They looked horrified. “You mean tell them your agenda?”
“Yes,” I said boldly. “I am going to lay out my entire agenda so there will be no doubt.”
So here it is. I certainly don’t speak for all Evangelical Christians but I think I just might represent a number of them.
Let me start by telling you what this particular Evangelical Christian does not believe…
I do not believe you have to be Republican to be a Christian. During the rapture Jesus will not appear first on Fox News. Like it or not, heaven will be bipartisan and I am totally fine that there will not be “sides” of the Golden Aisle.
I do not believe that God is “judging” America for any particular sin. But if He is judging this country I would suspect it is for the massive squandering of wealth and resources that we have been blessed with while giving back an average of just over 2 percent.
I do not believe in ranking sins for their offensiveness to a Holy God. Some things are individually more offensive to some of us but all sin is equally intolerable to a Holy God. We are either perfect or in need of a Savior. I am the latter.
I do not believe that censorship, boycotts, or politics will redeem this culture…only a spiritual renewal can accomplish such redemption.
I do not believe that it is my place to relish or desire eternal punishment for others. I am willing to leave that to a righteous and just God who sees the real heart and motives for each one of us and Who will judge justly.
And finally, here is my complete agenda.
- To try and see everyone through the eyes of Jesus because my eyes are prejudiced and prideful.
- To try and love them like Jesus because my love is selfish.
- To try and see that no one misses out on the message of grace, identity, acceptance and one-way love that is offered as a free gift of grace by the finished work of Jesus on the Cross.
- To let them others know that my relationship with Jesus and His grace has changed my life, given my life purpose, given me strength to endure tragedy, and real hope for the future.
- To authentically relate how this personal relationship with the living God saved my marriage and made me a better father to my sons.
- To be gentle in relating the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to people in every situation and mired in any sin. My goal is to introduce them to Jesus and let them work it out together while walking with them in grace and love.
- To exhibit grace and forgiveness to those who attack me for not sharing their views.
- To freely dispense the grace of the living Christ to everyone I come in contact so that I can be salt and light to my little circle of influence.
- To be a advocate for those wounded by the church and other Christians. Our lack of unity must grieve the Lord who prayed for unity of the body during His final agonizing hours before His betrayal, mock trial, and crucifixion.
- To try to never be surprised or repulsed by the actions of those who do not have a relationship with Jesus. The Lord Himself was always gentle with sinners and always tough on religious hypocrites. We have reversed his example far too often. We are too tough on sinners and too gentle with the hypocrites.
- To try and give generously of my time and treasure to those who have not been as materially blessed in my neighborhood, my country, and around the world.
- To let people know that I love Jesus and I am not at all ashamed of that fact.
It is easy to dismiss the hypocrite. No problem to ignore the angry and judgmental religious types. But I was troubled when I saw some Christians who displayed something different in their lives. I could not dismiss so readily the joy, peace, strength, courage, and love they modeled. They were “troublesome” Christians to me. I could not ignore them because their lives were authentic and different (different good, not weird). I want to be that kind of Christian. That is my agenda. Sorry if I have disappointed you conspiracy types. But I have come completely clean with you. My entire agenda is to be a “troublesome” Christian because Jesus is transforming my life every day. There…I feel better. I am glad you finally know the truth. It feels good to confess.