“Alright, here’s the situation. A major movie studio has approached you about a high-paying, starring role in a new blockbuster motion picture. The only catch? You have to cuss. A lot. Would you do it?”
When you’re 14, summer vacation conversations are full of meaningless, what-if fantasies.
“Not me. I wouldn’t. No way.”
In that moment, I became a giant of the faith (right next to Moses, Paul, and Carman). The speculation of turning down fame and fortune to take a stand against the evils of swear words undoubtedly elevated me to mega-Christian status. And to find the courage to publicly proclaim it in front of a couple of my non-christian buddies nearly got me a direct ticket to heaven in an Elijah-style chariot of fire.
No doubt, God loved me extra that day.
By my freshman year in high school, I had this Jesus thing figured out:
- Avoid speaking (or writing) certain 4 letter combinations.
- Stay far away from cigarettes (although when we heard Rich Mullins smoked cigars we were very confused).
- Courageously wear variations of your famous “witness-wear” t-shirts to public school at least twice a week.
- Never let a drop of alcohol cross your lips (we made carefully monitored exceptions for NyQuil during cold season).
- Tearfully burn any rock-n-roll cassette tapes you deviously collected at least once per calendar year.
- Never attend a rated R movie (Except Braveheart. Braveheart’s cool).
This is what it means to be a Christian.
(Honestly, that list isn’t as tongue-and-cheek as I made it sound).
I’m certainly not celebrating raunchy films, nicotine, or alcohol abuse. You have to wrestle your own conscience on these issues. But I will suggest that following Jesus, embracing Christ, allowing His life to come alive inside of you, will cause you to care about bigger things than foul language. And the things He’ll ask you to lay down will probably cost a lot more than your secular music collection.
(Like your obsession with your self).
Jesus opens you to God’s heart, his passion for people, the poor, reconciliation, repentance, truth, relationships, forgiveness, grace, love. Jesus doesn’t build a fortress of meaningless “don’ts” to separate us from the world. He asks us to courageously take His life out into it.
When you stand before God, I’m pretty certain He’s not going to present you with a list of the swear words you uttered. But He will ask how well you loved. How well you served. How well you sacrificed. How much you allowed His life to supersede your own.
I want to show Him I cared about things that really mattered.