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29 September 2008

The Story of a Thermos

O God, you know how foolish I am;
    my sins cannot be hidden from you.
Don’t let those who trust in you be ashamed because of me,
   O Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Don’t let me cause them to be humiliated,
   O God of Israel.
- Psalm 69:5-6 (NLT)

Here in north Alabama, it's sort of understood that residents must embrace college football with a fevered intensity. I believe this is on the papers one must sign before moving here. Personally, I'm not a major fan of college football, but for this illustration I've had to choose a side...

There were two recent college graduates who were walking to their first day at the same workplace. One man had graduated from the University of Alabama, the other from Auburn University. The Alabama grad had a shiny cylinder under his arm and the Auburn fellow said, "Hey, what's that?" "It's called a 'thermos,'" the Bama guy replied, "It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold." The Auburn guy thought that was great and said, "Neat!"

The very next day the two were walking to work and the Alabama graduate noticed that his friend had gotten a new thermos. He said, "Hey, cool! You got a thermos! What's in it?" The Auburn graduate replied, "Chicken noodle soup and a popsickle."

It's true: sometimes we do dumb things. I'm not sure that we can avoid that from time to time. But do the things that we intentionally do and say reflect perfectly or poorly on Jesus Christ? How much of our old self do we retain, and then mold our Christianity around those parts? I've heard a lot of rationalizing from people in my lifetime (and I'll bet I've done my share of it) in an attempt to retain parts of the old nature, which in the end wind up bringing shame on the name of Christ.

Dumb is one thing, but intent is another. Attitudes in direct opposition to the new nature can be evidenced when we hear ourselves saying things like this -- it's the motivation behind our responses that is the dead give-away:

  • "I know the Bible says to turn the other cheek, but I'm not going to just sit by and let somebody run over me."

  • "Be kind?? I'm paying $20 for this steak! Where's the manager?!?!"

  • "I am better than that guy! Why did he get the promotion?"

  • "I'm not just going to sit by and let her ruin my reputation."
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
   I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
   determined to do his will.
   And I know that I will not be put to shame.
- Isaiah 50:7 (NLT)

When we're hit with a circumstance that seems to warrant a certain kind of reaction, we must always measure it in light of the Word that we say we live by. Let's not do anything that will make those who trust in God be ashamed because of us.


Leroy said...

First thing that came to my mind about this Cars? Yep, cars. You know, the ones that have the dove/fish/God stickers on them but are driven like they were stolen.

Dean Lusk said...

What a concept! This is buried in a post I made a while back -- it told of a cartoon about a bumper sticker that said, “Honk if you love Jesus.”

Now I shall head off on a tangent that probably deserves its own post… People may not like what I’m about to say, but it’s brutal honesty about a mindset that’s very, very destructive to the name of Christ.

Self-deception (building ourselves up to be good when we really stink) like the bumper sticker thing has always typified a racially-prejudiced southerner to me, for some reason. Everyone in the south says that they don't judge people based on the color of skin, but for many (most?), that’s a flat-out lie.

I was told by someone in the not-too-distant past that they had “n----- rigged” something. That threw me for a loop; I haven't heard that phrase in a long time and thought it had passed away along with the dodo and Gotti's fortune. I understood what they meant, I wasn't offended, and I don't think they meant anything bad, but we have got to purge things like that from our speech, because it's universally-recognized slander. I would’ve known what he meant if he'd said "jury-rigged.”

Leroy said...

Born and raised in the deep south myself (south AL), we often times repeat things we have heard/been taught without giving them much thought. Ignorance is NOT an excuse, we need to pay attention to the words we use. Racism and prejudice has NO place in our world. God's grace knows only people; not color, not status, etc.

Oh, and WAR EAGLE!!

Jan said...

glad you picked the right team today Dean..... :) Hope you resisted the urge to jump off the roof onto your trampoline, or if you couldn't resist that you at least had Callie video it so we could all see. I've worried about that all day!

not really, but when I pictured you being tempted i did smile....

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