Sin is Boring. Convention must die.



Photo by Bence ▲ Boros on Unsplash

June 24th Sunday Readings.

I’m reading a nonfiction book about the rise of ancient Rome (I know – nerd). I recently finished a section that reminded me of the last ten or twenty or fifty years of popular culture and entertainment. The book described the use of shocking behavior (mostly sexual) to get the attention of both the elites and general public. Do something shocking enough – violent, sexually explicit, brutal – and you could rule Rome for a day.

My take away from reading our current culture reflected in that ancient culture was the simple realization that sin is boring. 21st century America hasn’t created any new shocking perversion. We aren’t the first culture to seek to break from the past by brazenly throwing out the previous generation’s moral code or public decorum. We just aren’t that original. 

Each generation seeks to be innovative and new. New generations desire to correct the mistakes of their parents by doing old things in new ways. In some ways, there is nothing wrong with this in principle. However sometimes, we go off the rails.

In the gospel this Sunday, we learn an important lesson in defying custom while listening to God. Zechariah and Elizabeth name their son John seemingly against the wishes of family and friends. They didn’t name John after Zechariah or any of the couple’s relatives. They named the boy John because the angel of the Lord told Zachariah to do so. The lesson here is that submitting to the will of God can sometimes break with customs, but can never break with truth. Or as G.K. Chesteron said, “Break the convention. Keep the commandments.” 

Where I live in Minnesota it is conventional to not “bother” other people. See someone crying in a pew in an empty Church in the middle of the day – don’t approach them, they wouldn’t want to be bothered. See someone wandering the aisles on a busy Sunday looking for a seat – they wouldn’t want me to make a big deal by moving over for them. A coworker asks what you are doing on the weekend – I’ll mention the lake or lawn care, wouldn’t want to bother them by telling them about my church. These are conventions that need to be broken in my neighborhood. 

What are the conventions of your local culture that need to die so that the gospel of Jesus Christ can be clearly and beautifully lived and proclaimed? I’d love to hear your answers. You can find me at Twitter or Instagram.

Change something this weekend for church. If you don’t go to church in the summer, go to church. If you have a set routine, break it. If you go to church alone or just with your family, invite someone else. When you do, offer it up to God. 

First or Nothing.

The Good Word for Sunday January 10th ~ for the complete readings click here. RickyBobby

“If you ain’t first, you’re last.” – Ricky Bobby

Engrained in our culture is the idea that we all must strive to be first. If we aren’t working towards becoming #1, then we are doing our “best.” College football coach Henry Russell Sanders is famous for saying, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing!”

Like most of you, I deny buying into this worldview, but a simple review of my driving habits would demonstrate how easily I default to seeking to be #1. Maybe you’re different than me, but I bet, if you took a couple minutes, you could find some aspect of your life where you can’t help but desire to be better than everyone else.

John the Baptist speaks in stark contrast to our culture’s push for first place. Think about it. In our gospel this weekend we hear, “The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.”

People thought John was the Messiah. John could have assumed the role of anointed one, savior. He could have used people’s loyalty to serve himself. But he didn’t.

John chose second place. John witnessed to the fact that no matter how important, no matter how many good things he did, he wasn’t the best. John put Jesus first.

Sometimes we even complete to be best at being good. We make church a competitive sport. If you’ve ever felt like you weren’t good enough or thought someone else wasn’t good enough to come to God, then you’ve experienced pious competitiveness.

If we want to follow Jesus more perfectly, then we need to take a page from John the Baptist and choose second place. Jesus first; everything else second.

Live It:
Give up your pew this week. Whether you normally sit in the front or in the back (or normally don’t come at all), make a conscious choice to sit somewhere different, so that someone else can take your normal spot.