Lisa at Author Intrusion posted this link to a Radar Online article about Stephen Baldwin and his new book, The Unusual Suspect. I don’t know Stephen Baldwin and I have not read his book, but I have read some things about him since he was born-again in 2002, and his enthusiasm for Jesus is both contagious and exhausting. It makes me remember when I was a new Christian, thirsty to know the Lord more and more and more and to love radically and to give radically.
There was an excellent interview with Stephen Baldwin on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly in May of 2004. In the article, talking about the skateboard ministry LIVIN’ IT, Baldwin says this:
LIVIN’ IT was simply: How can we take this skate culture and create an
outreach tool that is edgy, doesn’t have that cheesy Christian thing
that everyone complains about. Let’s make something new, let’s do
something really cool. …
It’s not my message. This isn’t Stephen Baldwin doing this. Stephen
Baldwin became a born-again two years ago. And Stephen Baldwin went
into the biggest Christian bookstore he could find. And some of them
are pretty big. And I went, "Hey man, what’s up, guys? I’m a believer
and show me all the really cool Christian stuff." And the Christian
employees of that Christian bookstore started laughing. And I was like,
"What’s so funny?" And they were like, "Well, there is no really cool
Christian stuff." And I sat there and I said, "That doesn’t make much
sense. There’s Christian billionaires. Eighty percent of the country’s
Christian. Where’s all the really cool Christian stuff?"
It’s my understanding now, based on my experience in business, that
most Christians don’t put their faith before their money. That’s the
reason why there isn’t a lot of cool Christian stuff. Whenever there’s
a potential Christian opportunity for business, the first question any
Christian investor will ask you is, "How do I get my money back?" And
the reason I love Luis Palau is because this is a guy who is completely
all about evangelism and reaching people and the lost with the gospel.
The message for me, for LIVIN’ IT, wasn’t about Stephen Baldwin the guy
who makes movies and Celebrity Mole and all this stuff and what he
thinks about the Bible. It’s not about that. I saw an opportunity to
take skateboarders who were hard-core believers, who want to reach
skateboarders and the youth and BMX bikers, and I wanted to focus on
them. That’s what LIVIN’ IT is.
And later, this:
Jesus could come tomorrow. That was the revelation I
had. And for me personally, it was all God’s perfect plan for Stephen
Baldwin’s life. But not to become some guy who’s, like, "Repent." I’m
not that guy. I’m the new guy that is going to bring it to people and
bring it to the youth of America in a new way that stays true and
righteous to the law, which is the word of God, which is found in the
Bible. I’m excited about the doors opening and the opportunity of doing
that in the future.
Read the rest of the article. It’s really quite good.
So why am I blogging about this? Well, I don’t think Mr. Baldwin came off particularly well in that Radar Online interview. I think the interviewer was laying for him. (I’ve had that happen in the press and it’s no fun.) Some believers may wish Baldwin would just shut up because they don’t want him representing them as Christians. Some may think he is just a know-nothing celebrity who gets noticed (and a book published) because of who he is and not what he stands for or how much he knows about the Bible. Those kinds of reactions cause me to reflect on something that happened when I was a new Christian.
I was born-again on a Saturday morning after reading several books, The Hiding Place, Woman to Woman, and Prison to Praise. When I finished that last book around 6 a.m., I gave my heart to Jesus. I didn’t have a church or a mentor or a Bible study (although I’d been reading The Living Bible New Testament for a number of months). It was just me and Jesus that morning. I found a church and great studies and sound teaching in very short order, but right then it was just the two of us.
A week later, full of the joy of the Lord, I walked into a friend’s home one morning and saw that she’d been crying. I told her what had happened to me and that Jesus loved her. When I returned to her home after I got off work, she’d been born again, too.
Now if that doesn’t prove the Lord can use anybody, I don’t know what will. Sometimes it isn’t how much you know but how excited you are for God that He uses.
Some years later, my friend’s husband accepted Christ. The two of them traveled to Israel and were baptized in the Jordan. Only back home, I still heard his coarse talk, and he did some things that I didn’t think a Christian would or should do.
One day God brought me up short on judging my brother in Christ. He told me that He, the Lord, was busy cleaning up the inside of this guy’s "cup" and I was to keep my hands off the outside because it would eventually — and in God’s good and perfect time — become clean too. It wasn’t any of my business.
I guess that’s how I feel about Stephen Baldwin and his interview with Radar Online. Whatever his answers, whatever his style of answering, whether or not he came off as a fool or a fool for God, God is using him and God is working in him. It’s not my business to tell God how to use Stephen Baldwin or to judge the outside of Baldwin’s "cup."
In the grip of His grace (and mighty thankful for it),