The Jesus I Know

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries9 Minutes

You may remember her as a morning talk show host on Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee, or perhaps you’ve heard her sing, read one of her books, or watched a movie she acted in or wrote.

Kathie Lee Gifford’s illustrious career in entertainment spans decades and earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But it’s her deep and abiding faith that continues to guide and sustain her today.

In her new book, The Jesus I Know: Honest Conversations and Diverse Opinions about Who He Is, Gifford shares candid conversations she’s had with believers and nonbelievers about personal faith. Gifford deeply believes in the transforming power of Jesus and wants to share it personally with those who need it most.

Kathie Lee recently spoke to Inspiration Ministries’ John Farrell about her new book as well as the importance of listening to those who may not share the same beliefs. She said that writing her book has helped her understand God’s grace and why it’s so necessary if we’re to love like Jesus loves.

“Jesus didn’t cancel anybody. If he’s our role model, and He is the one that we say we love, we say we’re following, we say we serve, then why aren’t we living our lives like He lived? Why aren’t we trusting Him enough that He will empower us to be His hands and feet and heart in this world? Why are we not believing that the Holy Spirit He left to us is enough?

“We take everything into our own hands and think we can deal with it. We can’t. We’re not equipped. Yes, we are more than conquerors, but God wants His people to be humble and loving and tender toward those who don’t understand and aren’t in the Kingdom yet and have fears based on all kinds of things that have happened in their lives. We cannot know a human heart. Only God can, but we can love a human being in the process.”

Gifford realized from an early age that she was called to be a different sort of missionary to the world.

“I was never going to be a missionary to Africa or China or all those places that were basically deemed acceptable. No, God was going to take me to Hollywood. God was going to take me to Broadway. God was going to take me to Motown. God was going to take me to NBC, ABC, CBS. Everything. That’s where God was taking me. That was my mission field.

“And as a result, millions of people have heard the Word of God because God put me in a position of favor where TVs were going, and movie cameras were running, and albums were being recorded. That’s how you take the Word to the ends of the earth – through the airwaves that God created, not Satan.”

Reclaiming God’s Possessions

Though many Christians criticized Gifford’s decision to pursue this different mission field, she remained undaunted in her purpose. Gifford felt God clarify His call on her life one day while watching the 1965 Billy Graham movie The Restless Ones. It was then that Gifford learned to embrace her calling by observing Graham’s response to criticism.

“Billy Graham, of all people, was criticized extensively for not understanding. Could you imagine telling Billy Graham, ‘You don’t understand. Satan lives in the movie theaters.’ Billy’s attitude was I do my crusades on television and millions of people come to know Christ. Are you saying that Satan owns TV waves too? God owns everything. If we give up and leave the airwaves to his kingdom, then yes. They said, ‘I’m taking whatever Satan has stolen because he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. We’re taking it back in the name of Jesus.’”

In His Image

But it’s Gifford’s love for people from all walks of life that has become her personal passion. Appreciating the diversity as God’s handiwork, she values each person as made in the image of God. In her book The Jesus I Know, Gifford focuses on authentic, living testimonies of God’s love and His constant pursuit of people who are different yet the same.

“God just works in mysterious ways … Some of the things that the world says are unlovely. God says, ‘Oh really? Guess what. I’m going to put them in the line of the Messiah. I’m going to put Rahab there. I’m going to put Tamar there.’

“I do not separate the secular and the spiritual in my life at all. I never have. I don’t think to myself, ‘Oh, I’m going into the pit of hell right now.’ I go, ‘No, the pit of hell is the world we live in.’ The pit of hell is in many churches that pretend that they love God. Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven is right here around you. Look around.

“Jesus made us look at everything differently, but because we don’t know the Scripture, we don’t know the original Greek and Hebrew, we don’t understand what the Word of God actually says, we get off course. We start saying things that aren’t true and preaching things that are damaging and hurtful. And the next thing you know, we have a world that hates one another because we can’t agree on anything. Why? Because we’re basing our whole theology on lies.”

Lovers Not Judges

Gifford said she now understands the significance of God’s grace and how His love can speak to each of us individually. She hopes her new book will touch hearts in a meaningful way and encourage people to deepen their love for God and others.

“We are not to judge any other human being, nor are we to judge their walk with the Lord or lack of it. We don’t know their hearts. That’s a key thing that Jesus taught – only God can see the heart of a human being. What He taught us to do is to love them in the process. Love them in the process, be there for them, then get out of the way, so the Holy Spirit can do His work renewing their hearts and minds.

“We’re supposed to be there and support people and love them. We’re not supposed to tell them how to think or what to do or how to worship. So many bad things happen when we usurp the role of the Holy Spirit. And we’ve decided that only we can save this person, only we can convince this person, only we can share the wisdom that’s going to change their life. No. No, we’re called to love them.”