I’m starting to think I’m just full of it.
Sometimes the way I think doesn’t line up with what I claim I believe about Jesus, or what I’ve been told about Christianity. Sometimes the way I act doesn’t line up with what I believe about Jesus. In a sense, I’ve turned into a bit of a stranger even to myself.
For example, I’ve been really thinking about the issue of language lately. It started when I started listening to the BadChristian podcast. I have a lot of respect for those guys, and I like the way they discuss things – I like the way they’re honest about their vulnerability to pornography; I like the way that they get atheists on the podcast to see how they think – about God, about the Church, about life, about humanity; I like the way they cuss. Weird, I know.
But let me explain myself a little bit – the way I’ve started looking at it, curse words mean nothing in and of themselves. It’s the intent behind them and the object of the word that makes it a bad thing. [WARNING: I’m gonna use a couple, because this is for display purposes only.]
For example, if I say “I’m so fucking tired,” I’m just saying I’m REALLY tired. Sure, I could say I’m REALLY tired. Okay, fine. Either way. That’s one of those ‘all-things-are-permissible-but-not-all-things-are-helpful’ kinds of things, in my mind. But if someone ticks me off and does something stupid, and I respond with “you’re so fucking stupid,” that’s when the red flag comes up with me. When I’m playing a video game or soccer or something, and I screw up and say, “shit,” that’s fine in my mind. I don’t think that’s hurting myself or others. But if I tell someone they’re full of shit, that can be hurtful and demeaning. In my mind, that’s the difference. If I’m directing those kinds of words (which get their insulting nature from society) at someone else, that’s when it becomes a problem. But again, I think the problem is less in the words said and more the reason I’m saying them to someone. If I tell my friend he’s a ****ing idiot, then I have a patience and grace problem, not so much a cussing problem. If someone is talking about the latest girl they’d like to (you know the word,) then they have an objectification problem and a purity problem, not a cursing problem.
That said, I’ve tried my hand at cussing lately. I don’t do it around everyone, because I think that it’s possible to be a stumbling block to people. I think some people do get offended by it, so I’ll hold off. But I don’t always hold off when I’m around other people who use those words, and while I’d like to say I don’t give it a second thought, I do.
Yeah, cussing doesn’t automatically make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me not a Christian, because Jesus makes me a Christian.
But while I justify myself by saying that strong language is just an indicator of strong emotion –
1. it’s always negative
2. the emotion is a problem, and Jesus wants to deal with that.
While curse words are not restricted, they shouldn’t be necessary. There’s just no reason for me to use them.
But cursing is just one instance. There’s other stuff I wish I could do with a clean conscience, because it’s fun or it feels good or it’s just nice.
I wish, for example, that I could masturbate (even without pornography) without a shred of guilt. But there’s still the fact that I’m giving in to a sexual desire – and it’s still the unwillingness to submit that desire and that thought to Jesus.
I wish, for example, that I could have oatmeal cream pies every morning for breakfast. But my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and I can’t just fatten it – buildings are made of solids: wood and steel – not cloth and fluff. And even more practically – there are mechanisms in my body that kick in when I’ve had too much junk food. I should respond to that.
I wish that I didn’t have to think about being a stumbling block for other people. I wish I could do whatever I wanted without an ounce of respect to anyone else’s conscience, but that’s not what Jesus asks of me. Jesus commands me to love my neighbor.
I wish I could flirt with tons of girls and not protect my heart and not worry about breaking theirs either. But that’s not what Jesus asks – He commands me to love my neighbor and His word tells me to guard my own heart.
Basically, I’ve just come into this season in life in which I’ve called into question all of the cleanliness that church encourages us as we grow up within it. After all, I’m free in Jesus to do whatever I want…
…but it’s not that simple.
There’s a popular song these days called “Forever,” and there’s a line in it that stuck out to me like a sore thumb this morning:
“The ground began to shake, the stone was rolled away. His perfect love could not be overcome.“
That’s when I realized – I can’t overcome the love of Jesus. I can ask tons of questions. I can have my doubts. I can wander. I can dabble in stuff like cursing, I can have a pornography problem, I can have anger issues, I can become unmotivated at work, I can have issues with people, but I cannot overcome the love of Jesus.
That does not mean that I do whatever I want and don’t change – in fact, what I’m implying is the exact opposite. I can’t look upon the love of Jesus Christ for me and not change.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and not love my neighbor.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and not respect women as friends and not sexual objects.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and think pornography is okay.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and be fine with being angry.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and curse other people or things.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and not care about the body He’s given me.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and cling to my comfort.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and not be generous.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and waste my money lavishly.
I can’t look upon the love of Jesus and not be a steward of what He entrusts me with.
Am I saying that I’ll never do that stuff again? No. I guarantee you I’ll get irritated with someone. I guarantee that I’ll masturbate at some point in the future (you don’t want to know that, but I’m going to be transparent here.) I guarantee you that I’ll eat way too much junk food in one night sometime. I guarantee you that I’ll pass by a homeless person asking for food or money. Because I’m human.
What I’m starting to want, though, are more glimpses of Jesus’ love. I want to see Him move. Not because He’s not moving – but because I’m not looking. I want to be overcome by Jesus’ love more often. I want His love to wash over me and flow into others.
Jesus overcame death, hell, and the grave – and I so desperately need Him to overcome me, too.