Saturday, December 20, 2008

Will Apollos Now Water?

I watched a very interesting video clip last night of Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame). I’ve always enjoyed watching and listening to him, and find his often brash but humorous approach to various subjects refreshing.

I’ve also often cringed at his tirades about Christians during his atheism or faith oriented monologues. Why does he always seem to find, along with most others that are critical of followers of Jesus, the fringe representatives of the faith?

He certainly has been “fortunate” enough to run into a plentiful supply of religious wackos to provide him context for his critical thinking about those who profess to follow Jesus.

And that’s why I found this video clip so interesting…

So a stranger shows up at Penn’s show and hands him a Psalms version of the bible. They exchange a few kind words, something that probably happens to Penn a dozen times a day over the last 20+ years (doing some quick math, that would be about 87,600 short conversations with fans), and this one exchange is somehow impactful enough to get a spot on Penn’s video blog on
And Penn states so matter-of-factly in the blog “I know there isn’t a God.” Well, let’s explore a bit of scripture that I think pretty accurately covers this incident:

“ …We each carried out our servant assignment. I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos [contemporary of Paul’s traveling the region preaching about Jesus] watered the plants, but God made you grow. It's not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God's field in which we are working.”
-1 Corinthians 3:5-7 (The Message)

Let’s call this stranger at Penn’s show “Paul.”
And Paul has most certainly planted a seed with Penn. Now who will come to water him? I suspect somebody will as this encounter and resulting impact in Penn’s life is not chance in my opinion. These types of encounters and discussions happen countless times a day all over the world- we just happen to have a little window into this because of the platform Penn has to share about what’s going on in his life.

A few observations from the video clip:

The stranger, Paul, seems to have made a real impact on Penn for a few reasons. He was kind and reasonable (Penn refers to this as “sane,” calling him that 3 different times), he was polite (2 times), he looked Penn in the eye (that’s a strange one, isn’t it? Three times mentioned), he seemed to “care about me,” was honest, and a good man (2 times, with the second preceded by "very, very, very”).

A few times Penn seems to be struggling to find the right words, which is not something common for such a rapid-fire fluid communicator.

The most amazing moment in the clip is when Penn all but urges, firmly, Christians (at least those that are “good” people that are also kind and polite- as in, the sane ones) to hurry up and get out there and spread the Good News. Time is running out. There’s a huge truck bearing down on the people of the world and everlasting life or death hangs in the balance.

Who would have ever thought God would use Penn Jillette to prompt believers to get out there and fulfill the great commission?

“How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you, and this [eternal life] is more important than that. ”
- Penn Jillette, 12/8/08