(I don't know Jason Russell. I'd love to talk to him, someday, about all the stuff he's been through. What's strange, maybe: I didn't really want to talk with him before "the incident" last week in San Diego. I'm sure he was a good interview before, but it's after something like this that someone becomes a fascinating interview.
I decided to write this to Jason, instead of about him, but it's not to give you the impression that I know him. I find occasionally writing this way helps me be more charitable, and feel things more deeply. Perhaps someone who knows him can pass this along, if they deem it appropriate. I'll leave that to him or her. The whole episode, and forcing myself to write about it, has made me truly pull for Jason, and - I didn't anticipate this - renewed my appreciation for the scandal that is the Gospel.)
Jason, you're free. You may not realize it, yet. But you're profoundly free.
Your breakdown, your fallenness, your foolishness, your weakness, made national news. Ours hasn't, yet. But everyone knows you are no Superman. Everyone knows you are a man who cannot "hold it all together". Everyone knows you are not to be placed on a pedestal. Everyone knows you are a man who cannot be trusted to save the world. Everyone knows you've got "issues".
Everyone knows, Jason, you are a human.
And, if you so choose, Jason, you can now have a freedom most will never experience. This is because your fallenness was in the light of day.
That's the difference, of course, since every "Christian hero" - author, pastor, athlete, musician, whatever - would be utterly humiliated to have his own inner thoughts and private actions exposed to the light, for all to see. Every single one of them, and every single one of us... utterly humiliated. Of course, we're promised, in 1 Corinthians, that God "will bring to light what is hidden in darkness, and expose the motives of the heart." But your brokenness has already been exposed.
...and that makes you a dangerous man. You've got nothing to lose. You've got no one to impress. You've got no false "dignity" you've got to protect. Like Jim Bakker, who, after being released from prison, could walk in bars to freely talk to people about Jesus, you won't have to worry about scandalizing people who want to find fault with you. The gig's already up: You're not in the running for Moral Man of the Year.
Nothing to lose. Reputation? Shot. Like I say: You're dangerous. In the best way.
It's not a great movie, but it's sure a great scene, in Phone Booth, when Colin Farrell's character is forced, at gunpoint, to admit his shame to a national audience on CNN. He's forced to confess everything - not only his hurtful philandering, but his desire to impress people, to be "cool", when deep down, he's really a fraud. A whole nation, riveted in front of their televisions, now knows his deepest, darkest, insecurities. And the scene ends, the movie ends, in a clear way: He's utterly humiliated.
And... utterly, completely relieved.
No more "rep". No more pretending. And, thing is, almost everyone is very, very concerned about how they are perceived, and deep down, would love to be relieved of this burden. I think this is one reason we are to confess sin to one another. It brings light to our shame, and the light prevails against it.
I don't know what you've been carrying on your back. I did get the impression, from the video (just speaking honestly here, with no clue what you were really thinking) that you wanted to be seen in a salvific light, for the children in Africa. If so, that's pretty heady stuff. I admire your desire to help, and share a desire to be significant. I wish we could, here and now, once and for all, find our significance in Christ, but I know it's a process for you and me and everybody.
So I don't know what happened, exactly. I just know your humiliating moment was in broad daylight. That's the difference right now between you and us - the only difference. Anyone who wants to claim otherwise is kidding themselves, and still trying to play the reputation game, trying to impress people, impress God, with how good we can pretend to be.
The Gospel astounds. God knows our darkest motives, our worst moments, our private shame, and is yet willing to say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant," because of what Jesus has done for us. I simply can't imagine having everything brought into the light, and then hearing "Well done..."
I can't believe it! My shame, brought into the light, and yet, "Well done..." I can't believe it, and yet, there it is.
And there you are, brother.
Here's to the days ahead. May we both walk in wisdom, and show our families, friends, neighbors, and enemies, a Jesus who's made a way to find freedom from our shame.