I got sucked in to the TV show M*A*S*H* when I was a teenager.
That’s not the confession.
Well, not entirely anyway.
I had never really had a cause, up to that point. Then I found this show on satellite TV at about sixteen, and I became mesmerized by the lead character Hawkeye’s sarcastic, unwavering convictions. Hawkeye was always right. He knew war was viscous and stupid. He knew authority should be subverted. And in the episode “George,” I learned that he knew homosexuality was almost certainly just fine and dandy.
I still think M*A*S*H* is funny, all these years later, but I’ve come to realize how one-dimensional it was as an artistic creation. Its writers put those characters who agreed with their point of view in a wonderful light, and those with a different take they almost always cast in a terrible one. But for a long time I was blind to that. I had been sucked in by Hawkeye’s rebellion, and by the idea of having a cause.
By the end of high school I was a pacifist who idolized Mahatma Gandhi, without, of course, having read much of anything Gandhi wrote or anything that had been written about him. The Ben Kingsley movie and a few bumper-sticker-quotes were enough for me to go out and tell the world where it was wrong.
I was in a youth group at a Bible-believing church, and I also acted in a touring Christian drama group. And the fact that I could rebel in these environments, could somewhat shock the majority, buck the trend, enthralled me. I wore a shirt to church one time that said that Osama Bin Laden shouldn’t die for his sins (this was probably about 2002). I refused to sing “God Bless America” at a fundraiser for our acting group. And I began to voice my opinion loudly on what I referred to as homophobia in the Christian world.
This is a confession, so I need to get trucking, here. I had friends who listened to me. I had buddies who claimed Christ and who found my prideful schtick compelling, partially because I (often) spoke it with such ridiculous passion and partially because rebellion is seductive to a lot of people. I said things about the Jesus who I claimed that were simply untrue. And not because I had a wrong take on the Bible and His words in it, but because I wasn’t even reading the Bible or His words in it. I said what I wanted to be true about sin, the Old Testament, Hell, homosexuality, gender, and drunkenness, and a few of my friends found at least some of it appealing. I claimed to be speaking for God, and I lied.
I lied. And I did it because I was proud and because I had found something I loved more than the Creator God: the feeling of smug rebellion.
But my life’s greatest story is this, guys: Jesus Christ pulled me from drunkenness and lust and gossip and Hell, and now my life is His. The Messiah washed me of all my sins by grace through faith in Him. The real Jesus, whose words are in Scripture, rescued me though I was dead in my sins.
The real Jesus. We are given His words and ministry and Gospel in the Bible.
And there aren’t any teachings of Jesus anywhere else, by the way. So if you’re not proclaiming the Jesus of Scripture, you’re in some shape or form proclaiming an imaginary person and slapping Jesus’ name on it. That’s what I did. And it hurt people.
So I confess my selfish, arrogant tirades intended just to shock the Christians I grew up around. And I hope to be able to offer most of them face-to-face apologies someday for misrepresenting the only One who can save any of us. And I offer this as a symbol of what Christians are called to humbly do: Confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive them.
Grace to you and peace.