I have been recently been watching One Punk Under God on the Sundance Channel, which is the story of Jay Bakker. Jay is the son of Jim and Tammy-Faye Bakker, who were the people behind the PTL Club and the original televangelists. He is also the founding pastor of Roveloution Church in New York City and the author of the book “Son of a Preacher Man”, which I have read and reviewed here.
His life story has really got me thinking about my life story and how I was raised as a Christian myself, along with the attitudes that I have developed as a result. As you can see from the picture I have posted here, which is a sticker from Jay’s church, it says that they are “sorry for being self-righteous judgmental bastards.” While that is pretty strong language I think there is a lot of truth to that statement, especially for me personally. As I have been really examining my walk with God and the way I live out my faith in the world around me I have realized that I have not been exactly living my life the way that Jesus would. I don’t believe that I have always shown people the grace and love that as a person who is a Christ follower should.
This recent Presidential election has really brought a lot of it once again to my attention and I realized how much of a jerk I had been towards people who thought different than me when it came to politics. But this post is about even more than just that.
I have been at the National Youth Workers Convention in Pittsburgh this weekend and have heard many compelling messages. One of the people that spoke was a gentleman named Andrew Marin, who is the mastermind behind The Marin Foundation that is “the very first organization that works to build a bridge between the religious and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) communities in a non-threatening, research and biblically oriented fashion.” Andrew challenged the youth workers here in Pittsburgh to really get out there and do what they can to reach out to gay teenagers and show them the love of God, and to be intentional about it instead of just waiting for it to happen. Unfortunately, the churches reaction to people in the gay and lesbian community has not been one of love and that has made the church one of the last places on earth that they want to visit, so being intentional and going to them is the only way for us to really show them the love of Christ.
The next speaker after Andy was Soong-Chan Rah, who spoke on the issue of race in the church, which sadly is still and issue that our Presidential election has showed to be something that is a problem. The whole reason why Soong-Chan Rah was invited to speak was because of a skit in one of the books that Youth Specialties published that had stereotyped Asian-Americans in a very bad way. You can read Marko’s apology for it here, but the most important thing that rose out of it was the dialogue that was started regarding racism in the church. We were challenged by Soong-Chan as to whether some of our beliefs were based on a cultural faith based in predominately white America or was it really based on the Bible.
If you want to hear either Andy or Soong-Chan’s messages you can get them here.
This journey that I have personally been on has been great. I think that taking steps back every so often and looking at your life in light of the life of Christ is such a valuable and important thing. I know for me it has caused me to open my eyes and reflect upon the way that I treat my neighbors and even the way I treat fellow Christ-followers. So as a Christian I am sorry that the way I have lived my life has not caused people to see Jesus in me. But I am going to do my best to make sure that changes from here on out.