It's almost Christmas and millions of Christians are preparing to celebrate what took place in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Unfortunately, Brad Pitt isn't one of them. While Brad wholeheartedly invests his life as a husband, father, and world-renowned actor, Christianity has not been on his radar for quite some time.
Brad Pitt was raised as a Southern Baptist in Springfield, Missouri. In a recent interview with the UK's Telegraph, Brad said his early years included "all the Christian guilt about what you can and cannot, should and shouldn't do." He eventually decided to become an atheist rather than a follower of Christ.
Brad Pitt and I are the same age. My wife, Tammy, grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and was actively involved herself in a Southern Baptist church. As we prepare to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we are both grateful for Christian parents who raised us in an atmosphere where the love and grace of Jesus was abundant.
In spite of his current atheistic convictions, there are some things about Christmas that Brad would be wise to consider. It could potentially lead him to a place "beyond the guilt," and a place of hope and joy in Christ.
Just imagine what it would mean for Brad's kids if they came to experience the real meaning of Christmas. Tammy and I have witnessed this over the years with our two sons and two daughters. Millions of believers can say the same thing about their family.
So what's the difference? How does one Southern Baptist in Missouri end up an atheist, while another enjoys a loving relationship with Christ? There are multiple factors, and everyone's situation is unique. The bottom line is that some kids grow up with a lot more guilt than grace, and never get connected to Christ in a meaningful way.
For whatever reason, Brad shows no interest today in the King born in Bethlehem. So in essence, he threw out the baby with the bathwater. Thankfully, it's not too late for him to consider Jesus from a new perspective.
Here is an open letter with a few thoughts I hope he will consider this Christmas.
I respect your willingness to share your religious experiences, while also expressing how much you appreciate key qualities your parents instilled in you. Let's face it. Sometimes the wires get crossed. It happens in marriage. It happens in families. And it happens in matters of faith.
Any religious guilt during your early years does nothing to diminish the real power and purpose of Christmas. It simply explains why you have no interest in the babe of Bethlehem. And that's only natural. It's the way we all tend to respond if we feel like the "should's" and "should not's" far exceed the joy and peace of a relationship with God.
But there is a way to get beyond the guilt.
Think of it this way. If one of your kids was harming himself or your family, you would continue loving your wayward child. At the same time, you would explain the "should's" and "should not's" for the well-being of your child and your family. This is what loving parents do, and you are no doubt a loving parent.
But on the other hand, what if you rarely saw your children? How might that affect their response to your rules? It's been said, "Rules without relationships lead to rebellion." A father cannot just show up once in awhile and start laying down the law. If he approaches his role that way, it will be deeply resented.
You stated in a recent interview how much you love coming home to your family. That sounds fantastic, and it speaks volumes for your parenting. Any father who doesn't love coming home becomes a catalyst for misery in the family.
You have said your father was "very, very tough on his children." Perhaps he was adamant when enforcing the rules, but not flexible enough for you to breathe spiritually and emotionally. That makes it difficult for a young person to experience and appreciate the freedom that comes from knowing Christ personally.
Imagine what it would be like Brad if you had as much love and respect for God as your kids have for you. And what if the guilt only showed up when you truly stepped outside of God's will?
Consider the Father's love for the Son, as well as the love your kids have for you, and then somehow merge the two. See the connection. Realize that your role as a loving dad is similar to the love you can have with your Father in heaven. If you will accept the gift under the tree of the cross, your sins will be forgiven and your heart will be changed.
That's just what happens when Christ comes into a person's life.
Until you experience this relationship firsthand, it's difficult to explain what it's like to have God's love in your heart. It's like trying to describe a parent's love for their children to someone who has never been a parent.
And please remember Brad. Just because you threw the Bethlehem baby out with the bathwater doesn't mean the baby is dead. Jesus is alive and well, and He will enter your heart and life the moment you bow before this King and receive Him as your Savior. He will gladly forgive you and then show you firsthand what Christianity is really all about. Just ask Him.
Your children follow your lead Brad because they love you. A similar thing could develop between you and Jesus. It's not too late to open God's gift to you under the tree. After all, the name "Brad Pitt" is still on the label.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, died on the cross of Calvary, and rose again on the third day. Real history. Real sacrifice. Real compassion. And He did it for you Brad. Love doesn't get any better than that.
Merry Christmas to you and your family.