Busy Nights and Black Junk

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Last night was pretty busy. I worked from 6-12, and I had approximately zero time to take a break. Well, okay, I took a fifteen minute break, but I’m pretty sure I was legally entitled to a thirty minute break. But oh well. I’d rather just get stuff done and get out on time than take a nice, long break, and get out late because of it. I mean, 12:00 midnight is late enough. I got home and went to bed, but didn’t get to sleep for about another hour after that.

Speaking of sleep, it was cut short because of worship practice in the morning. I think I got about six hours of sleep, so it wasn’t pretty. But oh well. It’s all in a day’s work, I suppose. I’ll just have to take an extra long sleep tonight or something. Something like that, anyway. This morning’s service was pretty good, I suppose. I can’t say much for the song selection, since they almost put me to sleep as I was standing on stage playing my bass, but oh well. We all have different tastes, and hymns just aren’t mine. That’s no reason to discount them and the words they contain, because some of them are awesome in that regard. But anyways, now I’m just sort of sitting here killing time until tonight. We have Life Groups tonight, and Kyle and Justine are speaking about the media and such. It should be good stuff.

I haven’t really written about anything too spiritual in here lately. I mean, there’s been the odd time or two, but I don’t know, these things just sort of come and go. Sometimes something will come to my mind, but by the time I get to the computer to write in my blog, it’s been forgotten. After all, I don’t really have the greatest memory. I trust that if God has something important to share through me, that He’ll bring it to my mind to write down. As for whether this next thought is one of those, I don’t really know, but I thought it was rather interesting, anyway.

I can’t really say when the thought popped into my head, actually. I think it was either as I was driving home after the service this morning, or else soon after I arrived at home. The message spoken wasn’t on this topic, and I don’t really know how the idea was brought to mind, but that seems to happen quite often. Somehow there was a thought process that went along with it to bring me along its path, but sometimes it just seems so random. But anyways, I digress. The thought was this: Sometimes Christians choose to be offended over the things that they should not be offended over, and fail to choose to be offended over that which they should be. Really, offense is a choice. It seems so sudden most of the time, but at the same time, we are choosing to be offended because of something that goes against the set of beliefs that we hold to. Whether these are the core doctrines of Christianity or merely our own small opinion, it doesn’t matter – but when we choose to believe one thing, other things that go against that belief offend us.

That seemingly random thought encouraged me to search deeper. What are these things that so often offend us, and why do they do so? I won’t venture to say that all Christians are like this; however, so many people professing to be born-again that I see around me seem to choose to take offense over such small things. In truth, I think most often the objects of our offense are things that go against our own opinions. The idea that “I should be catered to” seems to be a big one, at least for me. Someone fails to submit to our every whim, and we twistedly think, “How come they’re so selfish?” Of course, they’re likely thinking the same thing back, and it creates this tension that never should exist there in the first place. Even something unsaid can create this conflict that remains unsaid until it begins to build up. Then Christians pit against other Christians, and we wonder why they were so godless – often, I must imagine, while raising ourselves above them in selfishness.

Why is this so? Why must we be so selfish, even when we proclaim to believe in a religion that speaks out so often against selfishness? Of course, I know the answer to those questions; it’s because of our sinfulness and the nature of fallen man that continues to exist within each and every one of us. But that brings me to my next point: at the same time that we choose to be offended about the smallest things as our tiny opinions that have delusions of grandeur, we fail to be offended about the things that really we should take offense to. Primarily, we are called to be offended by sin. We should be so disgusted and horrified by it that the mere sight of it in our own lives causes us to take drastic measures to remove it. Notice that I say specifically in our own lives. While we still need to be lovingly reminding other Christians of the areas in their lives which need improvement, we need to, as Jesus said, remove the log from our own eye before helping others remove the speck from theirs.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had this recurring thought about pastors and some of their preaching styles. With the pastors that I’m familiar with, anyways, I’ve heard sermons where, in order to make a point and also include some humour in their message, they joke around about some situation they were in where they screwed up. They chuckle as they relate the situation where they had to restrain themselves from flipping another driver the bird, or how they stretched the truth to someone to make something less horrible. And while this shows their humanity, and how a pastor is still a person just like any of us, I can’t help but get this uneasy feeling in my gut. At the same time that the story is funny, I get this thought in my head saying to me, “Why are you laughing at this?” It is, of course, easy to dismiss this as just being too serious, and tell myself that I should just be more lighthearted about the whole matter, but the thought keeps coming back with more force each time. Why do I laugh at stories of pastors sinning, or at least flirting around the line of sin, when they’re supposed to be examples of high moral integrity? Why is that funny?

I heard a quote once that said, “When you laugh at something, you acknowledge it as normal.” Comedies have been doing this for years. They take a normal situation, throw in some exaggeration, and voila! you have a funny plot. And while I understand that sin is, after all, normal, the next question that forms in my head is, “But should it be?” By laughing at sin, we acknowledge it and get more comfortable with it around. We subconsciously say in our minds, “Well if the pastor can do that, it must not be so bad.” But the truth is this: with God, there are no gray lines. There are no fuzzy areas, and no sins that are “less sinful” than others. With Him, there is darkness and there is light. Each action is either one or the other. When we rationalize sin in our minds, even “small” sins, we tell ourselves over and over, “This is okay, at least in moderation.” We tell ourselves that we’re only human, or that as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s okay. But unfortunately, that’s exactly what Adam and Eve told themselves. They saw only the benefits of eating the fruit. God, however, did not come down and say, “Well, I know I told you not to eat it, but, well, no one else is around, so it didn’t hurt anyone else. And of course, I can see your point of view. It did look pretty good. You know what? I’ll let you off the hook this time. Just don’t do it again.”

I don’t think so. Sin has consequences, and that even includes those tiny sins like stretching the truth or telling someone a story about someone else behind their back. And when we choose not to be offended by even those small things in our lives, we choose to live in disobedience. And until we get offended by the right things, we’ll have a hard time not being offended by the wrong things. I’ve noticed that the two work like a balance. When we start to get disgusted by the sin in our lives, we start to define in our heads what is acceptable and inacceptable behaviour. The stuff that doesn’t fall in the first category then doesn’t seem to matter as much, and we begin to be more tolerant of other and live in harmony with them. It’s an awesome principle, but it begins with scraping the sin out of our lives.

At the theatre, when I close down at night, one of my duties is to clean the popcorn machine. This thing gets used all night, so it gets pretty dirty. In fact, when I open up the top, inside, there’s plenty of gunk and black stuff. The gunk is usually just buttery stuff that can be washed off without too much trouble, but the black stuff takes more work. On an average night, I can spend about twenty to thirty minutes scraping out the black junk with a paint scraper. And even then, it’s not completely clean. But as I think about it, sin is like that nasty stuff. When we become Christians, Jesus washes us clean, and gets rid of all that sin that easily comes off. However, since we as humans were born sinful, there is still a whole bunch of black stuff that remains stuck onto our lives. From then on, we have the process of scraping out the sin in our lives – the sin that just doesn’t wash off so easily, like bad habits and the small sins that we barely even recognize as sin. It’s also a continual process. Just like the popcorn machine has to be cleaned every single night, or else it gets horribly disgusting, we need to be constantly renewing our minds and purifying our hearts. It’s the only way to keep up to the black junk and get rid of it.

Anyways, that went on a little longer than I expected, but I hope it helps whoever is reading this. At the same time that I tell you readers this, I have to tell myself this, because I know I’m certainly not any further along cleaning out black gunk than anyone else. The trick of the whole thing is to just keep chipping away at it bit by bit. At the time, it doesn’t seem like you’re making a difference at all, but as you keep it up, the change shows. Anyways, I think that’s everything I have to say for today. Have a good one, and, well, stay away from nasty black stuff.

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