“Did you hear the one about the Christian who…?” Well… you know. There’s a million of these jokes and they are all the same…
Other than politicians… I think people of faith – especially Christians – seem to be the target of more jokes than just about anybody else. Do you think it’s because atheists and agnostics are just mean? Think again.
It’s because, like politicians, we often say one thing and often do the exact opposite. Nothing is easier to poke fun at than a hypocrite and a liar. To stay as politically neutral as possible I’ll use Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton as examples of politicians caught in lies who were mercilessly skewered through their presidency over their “indiscretions.” Today, if either name is mentioned it always has the caveat added of pointing out their disgraces. Regardless of what accomplishments either one made, their legacies are forever tarnished.
For us as Christians, the same problem occurs. Some will claim Jesus but live a life counter to Him. Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-40 that the greatest commandment is to love God and love people, and sadly one thing Christians are highly criticized for is being judgmental of others, being gossipy, being selfish, being cliquish and not welcoming new people in… All behavior that does not line up with the character of Jesus.
I like to watch a show called Real Time that is hosted by a comedian named Bill Maher. I’ll tell you before you go looking for this show – it’s pretty rough – in literally every aspect and you will more than likely be offended by something he says. I watch it though because I think it’s important to hear what someone like Bill thinks about Christians. He is crass and as cynical as the day is long and many times he’s just downright ruthless and cruel to people who think differently than he does but every time I think about Bill Maher… I pray for him. Even as I type that I realize it sounds condescending… But I don’t mean it in the “I’ll pray that God punishes that dirty sinner!” I mean it in the same way as when I say I pray for my family. I pray for his safety. I pray for his family, his circle of influence… I pray that there will be a day he meets Jesus. I pray that there are Christ Followers in his life that are real and are actually great representatives of who Jesus is. I pray that one day one of his famous quotes will no longer be true where he famously said, “I love Jesus. I just don’t like the Christians who don’t believe in what he says.”
Now it’s easy to say – “I won’t let my ears be polluted by the garbage Bill Maher puts out!” That’s fine… I understand not wanting to hear a lot of what he says… but just don’t let yourself pretend that what he says is not important. He has a great deal of influence and he is committed to his mission to see everyone who will listen give up on what he would say is a foolish belief in God. Can we say the same about ourselves? Are we dedicated and committed to make sure everyone who sees us, who hears us, who meets us, who knows us – is seeing a true representation of Jesus and that we aren’t a walking punchline to some lame joke?
Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.