One of the biggest stories this week centered around what happened last Sunday at the Cowboys/Packers’ game. It had little to do with football, other than a couple of people sitting side by side in the owner’s suite.
USA TODAY described it this way, “Eagle-eyed fans (not the Philadelphia Eagles) spotted the comedian (Ellen Degeneres) sitting next to former President George W. Bush during Sunday’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. The unlikely duo had many fans throwing a flag on the play.” 1
Apparently some normally known for their tolerance weren’t going to tolerate this. This wasn’t normal and was totally unacceptable.
CNN entertainment said, “Ellen DeGeneres will not be Twitter-shamed for who she spends time with. She said, 'They thought, why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?' But instead of sharing some of the negative tweets aimed at her, DeGeneres shared one which said, ‘Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.'” 2
“People were upset,” Ellen said. “A lot of people were mad. And they did what people do when they’re mad … they tweet.” 3
She used the opportunity to promote tolerance and kindness; something we certainly could use more of in our world. She said, “We’re all different and I think we’ve forgotten that it’s OK that we’re different,” according to James Walker in an article for Newsweek. He said Ellen “added she wouldn’t avoid being friends with people because they don’t agree on everything. ‘When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way you do. I mean be kind to everyone.’”4
Being courteous, kind and respectful to everyone should go without saying. In fact JESUS said it first, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31), which some have called the “Golden Rule.” But being friends is something altogether different. Especially if we are talking about something more substantive than the social media phenomenon called Facebook “friends,” where people who barely know each other claim to be or pretend to be “friends.”
What kind of friends would you and I be if we didn’t tell the truth to each other? And if our friendship is only for this life and we don’t tell the truth about the life to come, were we really friends?
Tim Keller said, “Truth without grace is not really truth and grace without truth is not really grace.” Kindness and friendliness without telling people the truth is disingenuous. What’s more, it's eternally dangerous.
What kind of friends would you and I be if we didn’t tell the truth to each other?
Can we sit by people we don’t know at a football game or by people we do know but don’t agree with on everything? Absolutely. But eternity is far more than a football game and so much more than a single Sunday afternoon spent sitting in a suite. It’s forever and we can’t afford to be on the wrong side of eternity.
As Christians, we cannot and must not compromise what God’s Word says. We can love our relatives and friends who make bad choices that go against God’s Word, but we cannot condone those choices or ignore what God’s Word says. The most unkind, unloving, un-“friend-like” thing we can do is not tell people the truth. Especially our friends and loved ones.
The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However, if any of us want to live in sin instead of leaving it, the Bible is clear: “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6).
Jesus declared to the woman at the well in John 8:11, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Those who leave their sin and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior can be saved (Romans 10:9-10), which is what we encourage everyone to do. No one can continue to live in sin and claim to be a follower of Jesus. That’s living in defiance, deception and rebellion when God has called us to live and walk in repentance.
We should love everybody, but it’s not loving to let people live with a false hope that they can do whatever they want and live however they want and still go to Heaven. Jesus loved people enough to tell them the truth. We should, too!
The Bible says God is patient with us “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). But His patience won’t last forever, even though His standards will.
So can we all just get along? You want the truth? Not for long, and certainly not for eternity without God’s truth.
Pastor Chris Hodges said, “Truth without grace is mean; grace without truth is meaningless.”
© 2019. Barry L. Cameron
1 Henderson, Cydney. “George W. Bush 'Appreciated' Ellen DeGeneres Going to Bat for Friendship after Backlash.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 8 Oct. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/celebrities/2019/10/08/ellen-degeneres-talks-sitting-next-george-w-bush-football-game/3905335002/.
2 France, Lisa Respers. “Ellen DeGeneres Explains Hanging out with Her Friend George W. Bush.” CNN, Cable News Network, 8 Oct. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/10/08/entertainment/ellen-degeneres-george-bush/index.html.
3 Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “Ellen DeGeneres Stands up to Twitter Mob, Defends Appearing with 'Friend' George W. Bush.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 8 Oct. 2019, www.foxnews.com/entertainment/ellen-degeneres-george-w-bush.
4 Walker, James. “Ellen DeGeneres Hits Back at Criticism for Sitting with ‘Friend’ George Bush: ‘It's OK That We're Different.’” Newsweek, Newsweek, 8 Oct. 2019, www.newsweek.com/ellen-degeneres-hits-back-sitting-george-bush-criticism-1463752.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.