“Confessions of a Bad Christian” – Osteen and Dover and ID, Oh My!

Today’s Dallas Morning News was a little tiptoe through a minefield of bad news and bad behavior.

Dateline Houston…

  • The pastor of the nation’s largest church and his family were asked to leave a plane after his wife failed to comply with a flight attendant’s instructions, the FBI said Tuesday. Houston Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen, his wife Victoria Osteen, and their two children boarded a flight from Houston to Vail, Colo., Monday. The plane’s door had been closed when Victoria Osteen and a flight attendant had a disagreement.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how justified Mrs. Osteen was to be unhappy with the service from the flight attendants. I don’t know what kind of attitude the flight attendant displayed toward the Osteens. I do know that this unfortunate act will be the fodder of jokes and ridicule and demeaning of Christianity, and by extension, of Christ. When we take the awesome responsibility of calling ourselves Christians we raise the bar on our personal behavior. Whether we like it or not does not change the truth of that fact. For those who witnessed the incident and for those who were inconvenienced by having to wait an hour for the Osteen’s luggage to be removed the message of the gospel may have been damaged. Is that unfair to Mrs. Osteen? Perhaps. But when you are a visible and vocal representative of Jesus, whether it’s at a megachurch or a mini mart, you are representing Jesus everyday and every moment. I can guarantee you that if I display unseemly behavior the first thing that will pop into the minds of those who know who I am will be  “I wonder if that is in his wonderful little Christian books?”. One of my biggest fears in writing books was that I knew I had put myself on the line for the rest of my life.

But the reality is that simply announcing  “I am a Christian” does exactly the same thing. Your failures likely won’t make the news but they may do just as much damage. I pray that the Osteens will handle this in a way that demonstrates the humility and grace of Jesus. We all make mistakes. It is how we respond to them that can make a difference. Repenting and repairing by asking forgiveness is a very good way to practice damage control.

Dateline Harrisburg, Pa….

  •  In one of the biggest courtroom clashes between faith and evolution since the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, a federal judge barred a Pennsylvania public school district Tuesday from teaching “intelligent design” in biology class, saying the concept is creationism in disguise. Others criticised it as an attack on scientists who believe in God. U.S. District Judge John Jones delivered a stinging attack on the Dover Area School Board, saying its first-in-the-nation decision in October 2004 to insert intelligent design into the science curriculum violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

No surprise here. This was a very poor test case because of circumstances surrounding the lawsuit. I am not discouraged by the ruling because I am convinced of the truth of a Creator. Brilliant men and women will continue to seek the clues of the mystery of life. I am confidant to let that process unfold. I do intend to challenge some of the blatantly unfair stereotypes and assumptions made about those who hold to the idea of a Creator in future blogs.

Dateline somewhere in the Target Department stores offices….

  • Countdown to Christmas (from Target full page ad)

I noted that Target got some of that “old time bottom line religion” and added Christmas to their TV and print ads. Nervous executives may believe that Christians are stupid and narrow minded but we do have some fat cash. Merry Christmas.

Dateline Ft. Worth…

  • Kirk Franklin won’t hide his past, including the porn. Some people are upset about a confession Mr. Franklin made on The Oprah Winfrey Show last month.  “I’ve been around all the fakes and, you know, all the church folk that were super-spiritual, but you saw them doing dirt, and I didn’t want to be a hypocrite,” he told Ms. Winfrey. “I didn’t want to be a fake church dude. You know what I’m saying?” Mr. Franklin does not regret doing the interview. He only wishes he could have spoken for longer. “I didn’t get a chance to talk about what my motives were,” his mission to help other men recognize how sexual compulsions could hurt their marriages, to explain how God could help, he says. 

For reasons beyond my comprehension Kirk Franklin is being criticized for being honest, real, and offering the hope of redemption in Christ. He is being starkly candid about the damage pornography does to relationships and to the soul. I was a fan of Mr.Franklin before. I am more so now. Observers are looking for authenticity and it won’t be found in “fake church dudes”.

Dateline Jerusalem (from the archives)

  • Headline: Jesus addresses fake church dudes in temple harangue. “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony.”  The Message

The message hasn’t changed in the last 2,000 years. It is easy to clean up and shine up our “Christian” exterior to sparkle. The hard work of cleaning up the maggoty insides will make the eternal difference. Live like an ambassador for Jesus during this Christmas season and into the New Year. And if you screw up…repent, reconcile, and repair.

Merry Christmas.