Site Meter

26 January 2008

Don't Tell Off-Color Jokes

Ah, what a blunt and unimpressive title...

I guess it must be easy to subdivide our lives into different behaviors based upon the group of people we're around at a given time. I think it's easy because I did it for a long time and didn't even think about the fact that I was doing it -- I was one person when I was around "church" people and another person (the real one) when I was around "normal" people. It's unfortunately a common scenario; possibly one that's familiar to you in some way.

I believe I must still do the following to some extent (though I'm attempting to purge this behavior wherever I see it), and there probably is a little liberty somewhere in here, but I've noticed that it seems okay to most Christ-followers to save trashy talk for conversations with other Christ-followers as long as they don't do it around nonbelievers. "Trashy talk" doesn't necessarily mean stringing profanities together, but it might mean presenting off-color or innuendo-laced jokes, e-mailing PowerPoint files that are funny but almost reveal women's bodies in a way they shouldn't, etc. It could mean sharing the nitty-gritty details of someone else's life -- info to which only you are privvy -- so that the other person can "know how to pray for them." (Sometimes valid, sometimes gossip.)

So is that stuff encouraging to other Christ-followers in their walk with God? Sure, it may be very funny or very tantalizing conversation, but is it wholesome?

In Exodus we read the account of Moses seeing a fellow Jew being beaten by an Egyptian. He looks to make sure no one [other than the Hebrew man, obviously] is looking, and kills the Egyptian and buries him. Sounds like Moses didn't even seriously question his own behavior, and he thought it would be accepted and appreciated by the man who was being beaten, which was probably true.

However, the next day we see that Moses' "only you and I have to know about this" behavior is not taken well by those who are in what he thought to be his extended inner circle. Now, surely there was some resentment over the fact that he was the lone Jew who was accepted by the Egyptian royalty. Not only did he fail to take this into account, but he assumed that his actions would be taken in stride by his people.

Maybe Moses did this to win brownie points with them. This would be like the Christ-follower who slightly (or worse) lowers his own moral standards in order to make nonbelievers feel more comfortable around him so that they will begin thinking, "Hey, maybe you can be 'cool' and be a Christian!"

Whatever the case, in the Exodus account Moses partitioned one persona for the Egyptians and another for the Hebrew people. It backfired. (Note that God used the developing situation to work out one of His huge purposes later; a case where God used a bad situation to bring about good things.)

Paul said to the faithful followers of Christ at Ephesus, "[T]hrow off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." (Ephesians 4:22-24, NLT) and he follows up with such straightforward statements as: stop telling lies, don't let anger control you, don't steal, don't use foul language but instead say good and helpful things. (Ephesians 4:22-32)

In summary, "...[D]o not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own..." (Ephesians 4:30a, NLT)


Tony M said...

You know, I think we have our priorities slightly off when we think that we have to do certain, non-Christian things to appear "cool" to "the real world" (so to speak). You know what's really cool? Someone who's really on fire for God, and lives his (or her) life in a way that actually would make Him proud, and who shares His love with those around him (or her). Funny how we often end up skewing our perception to appeal to the world's ideals, instead of trying to see the world through Jesus' point of view. (Didn't you have a post about that sometime or another?)

But that whole, "I'll act 'holy' when I'm at church, and like those around me when I'm elsewhere" thing... that's gotta go (sorry, poor grammar there, done for emphasis). "Holy" means "set apart" - and you can't be both set apart and not set apart at the same time (or even different times, if you're switching back & forth). Either you're set apart or you're not. Kind of like that "partial surrender" thing you mentioned (still a great quote, by the way!).

Oh, I think I may have found the perception post (but don't hate me if I got the wrong one; it came up when I searched "surrender" in EGBDF to find the surrender post).

Anyway, just some thoughts... have to get some stuff done now...

Christy said...

You know, Dean, I really don't feel that I am able to contribute anything more to your posts here lately. You are really touching on issues that are right on with how God is working in my heart and mind! Spooky, isn't it? ;)

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Bluehost Review