I’m not talking about Jerry Seinfeld the man. It’s hard to say if the current Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee host thinks much about his eternal future.
I’m talking about Jerry Seinfeld the character from the classic show Seinfeld which turned 25 years old this year.
While I imagine Jerry Seinfeld is a kind, generous, thoughtful and loving person in real life, his television counterpart was nothing of the sort.
Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer were self-centered, egotistical, perverse, and sometimes downright despicable. And for 9 hilarious seasons the world loved them for it.
This article from TV critic Andy Greenwald on Grantland sums it up well: We loved to see Jerry use women and break up with them for petty faults. We loved to see George lie his way up the corporate ladder. We laughed off the silly antics of people who were borderline psychopaths.
We hailed Seinfeld as the greatest television comedy of all time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing for us to sit back, relax, and laugh at the crazy misdeeds of fictional television characters behaving badly.
The problem is when we sit back and laugh at the crazy misdeeds of the “Seinfelds” in our everyday lives.
Every person reading this knows a few “lost causes” in their life: the people we see constantly struggling, doing stupid and harmful things to themselves and to others.
We invite them to church. We give them an inspirational book for Christmas. We write their names down on prayer request sheets.
We try helping them. The help never seems to work.
But we love them. They’re our family, our friends, our coworkers.
So instead of abandoning them we take the Seinfeld approach: we laugh and shake our heads at these characters and their crazy antics.
We don’t encourage them, but we don’t discourage them either. We watch their lives pass by like a sitcom.
It’s easier that way. After all, they seem like such a lost cause. Why bother trying to save them?
Maybe saving them is not the point.
I’m reading a book right now called “How To Pick Up A Stripper” by Todd and Erin Stevens. The title comes from their church’s Strip Ministry wherein they reach out to strip clubs across Nashville.
In the book Todd writes about a numeric scale of beliefs created by author James Engel. On Engel’s scale, every person in the world can be identified with a number between -10 and +4 as far as their beliefs are concerned.
A -10 would be no knowledge of God at all; a +4 would be someone with a fully thriving Christian faith who leads others to connect with Christ as well.
From the atheists to the agnostics, from the skeptics who sit in the back pews to the believers who aren’t really committed – the majority of humanity falls in between the numbers on this belief scale.
Every person could conceivably be measured on it because every person in the world believes something about God.
In the book, Todd writes of how his mission as a pastor is not to bring about the immediate salvation of those he ministers towards. He’s not trying to get people who are at -10 to +4 with one sermon.
Instead, his goal in ministry is simply to help unbelievers take the next step forward.
After all, you can’t really expect someone to take a giant leap of faith in one instant. The progression to belief is an ongoing process in each person’s heart.
What if, instead of giving up on a “lost cause” we just tried to open their eyes a little bit to the power of God’s love and grace by doing a better job of showing it to them?
Instead of detaching ourselves from the people we’ve given up on and treating them like sitcom characters, what if we changed our strategy?
What if the burden was not on you to save the “Seinfelds” in your life? What if all you were called to do was just get them to the next step?
If a loved one in your life is sitting at a -7 on the faith scale, nowhere near accepting Jesus as savior, save yourself the time preaching a sermon to them.
Instead bake them a casserole. Invite them to the movies and pay for their ticket. Spare them the speech and show them Christian love in action.
There is hope for the lost. There can be salvation for the “Seinfelds” in our lives. It’s up to us to push them toward the next step.
Who is a “Seinfeld” in your life? What’s one thing you could do today to help push them to take the next step?
Pick up a copy of How To Pick Up A Stripper by Todd and Erin Stevens from Amazon. I highly recommend it.
For more thoughts on Seinfeld and faith, check out my post on Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee