The Complicated Christian
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Man… our heroes are falling left and right these days.
The news headlines are full of self-professing Christians who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. One minute they’re expressing their faith in Christ, the next their mug shot is plastered all over the Internet. It’s tough to be human in the spotlight.
You’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard about Mel Gibson’s recent run-in with the law by now. It is the buzz of the blogosphere how the man who showed the world the Gospel story in graphic detail could be arrested for drunken driving and spewing anti-semitism.
As much commotion as this has caused, it’s certainly not the first time a Christian’s actions have raised a few eyebrows.
Remember Scott Stapp, the former frontman for the kinda Christian/ kinda not band Creed? Their music always showed strong hints of spirituality, especially on songs such as “My Own Prison” and “What’s This Life For.” Stapp discussed his faith with Christianity Today back in 2004. In the interview, he described himself as a “struggling Christian” who renewed his relationship with Christ after hitting rock bottom [Stapp grew up in a Christian home]. He proudly contributed music to The Passion of the Christ soundtrack.
By January 2006, Stapp was back in the hole again. Rolling Stone magazine gave the details of his descent, including alcoholism, brawling with other bands, crazed onstage antics. Stapp was a bad boy by the world’s standards, let alone CCM’s. At the time of its publishing, Rolling Stone wrote: “Today, the sober Stapp is friendly and humble… After his wedding in February, Stapp will launch his first dry tour”… A month after the interview, Stapp was arrested for public intoxication on his way to his honeymoon.
There are more, and we know the stories. There are the televangelists whose ministries never fully recovered from sex scandals. Many traditional Christian musicians saw the dark side of fame too. I run CBNmusic, and every time we post anything on Amy Grant, I get a handful of e-mails saying basically the same thing: “You shouldn’t cover her new music. She left her husband. She’s not a good role model.” I want to scream, “It happened nearly 10 years ago! Let it go.”
But people won’t let it go, and I'm starting to believe that Christianity is way more complex than most of us realize.
Christians are usually the first ones to be called hypocrites by the world. Why do we preach one thing and do another? Why do we tell others they need to be honest when we lie? Why do we talk about loving our neighbor then use the Bible to tell them how much God hates them?
Because we are human. We are all walking dichotomies with natures that are both holy and profane – equally sinner and saint. We deal with the same issues. We wear the same skin and fight the same urge to self-destruct.
The world has good reason to look inside the church and want nothing to do with it. After all, if we’re no better than the sinners, then there isn’t much point in conversion.
However, we are different. I would like to think it is because as Christians we actually realize our own depravity. Whether we own up to it or publicly acknowledge it, that's up to the individual. But we get it. We get that we're not perfect. And those of us who are really honest with ourselves are readily willing to admit that we are absolutely wicked to our core.
Paul knew it. This great hero of our faith called himself the “chief of sinners.” He wrote the Romans and confessed, “I know that my selfish desires won't let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot… What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die?” (CEV)
Enter a Savior. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (NIV). We wouldn't need Jesus if we had it all together. And if you follow that train of logic, then technically, the more messed up we are, the more we need Him.
So perhaps it's the troubled ones who God watches most intently -- the Mel Gibsons and Scott Stapps of the world. Not to say that those who diligently walk the narrow path are somehow overlooked. You get your benefits too. But let's be honest, nobody threw a party for the prodigal son's law-abiding brother.
We are hypocrites, and even on our best days, we're poor ambassadors of Christ. But if our depravity only means we are that much more desperate for a Savior, then perhaps we are the best example of a Christian the world will ever see.
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