I know it’s been a while, and I’ll explain soon enough.
I’ve been having these dreams. None of them are the same, but they all involve trips on a train. It’s me and a friend, though I can never remember who it was when I wake up, are taking a train to a different place every night. Every night we wait for the train to show up and we board. We find seats in our car, where we’re always with the same four people. There are other people, but four other strangers are always in the train car with us. We travel to wherever we’re going. Every night is a new trip. Last night we were waiting in a train station. The train station had a church. We went to the service for the church, but were late. We had to leave the service early to catch the train and got in the queue. But shortly after I realized I’d forgotten my pillow in the church, but not to fear. Because one of the strangers comes up behind me and says, “I thought this looked familiar,” and he hands me my dinosaur-clad pillow. It’s all just very strange, and I’m trying to suss out what it means. And if I let me imagination take even the tiniest step, I have to assume I’ve been dream-sharing.
Now to the figuring things. On a very personal level I’m struggling. I feel like I’m straining to hear God, to hear direction or even feel a tiny nudge. And in my unemployment I’m getting impatient. What’s worse is I feel like any sense of discernment is being shaken, and I don’t feel like I’m actually getting in support as far as not just finding a job, but finding the place God wants me. I’m starting to feel very defeated. More over, various people, close and not so, are prodding for me to be writing things. Things here, things on my own, things to make me a “writer,” whatever the hell that is. But it’s distracting. It doesn’t feel beneficial. Because what’s happening is this. Either God is using people to push me, but Satan is distracting my mind from being able to write things. Or Satan is pushing me toward my pride to write, and God is silencing my brain so I can’t write. Either way I’m frozen. I was asked to join a writers group with a specific intent, and every time I get an e-mail about the topic of the week that topic is instantly completely inaccessible to me. As if I’d never even heard of those ideas before.
And on a personal, but also broader level, where’s the line? At what point do we stop behaving exactly like those who do not know Christ and pursue something else? And I’m not going to mask the details. I’m going to be candid, and it’s because I don’t see a point in being vague. It’s confusing.
Last night I went to a bar in Huntington to see my friends’ band play. When I arrived music was already happening. People were gathering. A horde of women was sitting in a mass in front of me. And while the concert itself wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, the post-concert was. Sadly, out of the ordinary for my heart and brain, but I don’t think for those involved. I’ve no qualms with dancing. What I do find troublesome is public dry humping on a “dance floor.” Grinding is super weird and intensely sexual. “Oh here’s a stranger. Let’s nearly bone for a while, until I get bored and find another stranger.” It’s unsettling. People I love. People I RESPECT. And it begs the question, what about this conceivably shows any sort of turning from our old ways to pursuing Christ? I mean, I guess if you were sharing your testimony while you seduced someone from on top of a speaker? Or shared the gospel as you helped some stranger get off by rubbing your ass on him? No. I’m afraid I don’t get it. In the same way that I don’t understand people who claim they’re pacifists, but have bare-knuckle boxing matches in their basements. In the same way I don’t understand alcoholics in bars.
Let’s look at the idea of alcoholics at bars. Let’s say I’ve come to understand I’m an alcoholic. that my life is in total disrepair. I can’t function without alcohol, but I’m not functioning because of alcohol. I am rock bottom. I start going to AA. I go to rehab. I’m getting myself clean. So to avoid that I’m not going to a bar. Right?
So let’s then look at Christianity. Let’s say your driven by male attention, and you find that you do get more fulfillment from pursuing a relationship with Christ than whatever form of male attention you can get. You try to take compliments at face value. You avoid dating. You straddle legs with a stranger on a dance floor. Right? Same thing right?
I understand that we’re all prone to errors, and we shouldn’t live hiding our sins. We shouldn’t be presenting ourselves as better than we are, because we’re all broken. We’re all messes. It seems though that that’s something completely other than what I saw yesterday. I felt sick. I feel sick. And I know some of the arguments I’ll hear. I’ve heard them before. I just don’t feel like what we’re instructed to do is continue living exactly as we always have. Once we make the choice to pursue Christ and live our lives for him, our own satisfaction and gratification have not one damn thing to do with that. And that being helpful or service aren’t enough. I know we’re forgiven, but it’s not fire insurance. It’s not a do whatever the hell you want card. If we’re truly trying to live for Christ. If we’re loving God first, then shouldn’t our lives reflect that? That’s always been my understanding, and I don’t see how that does. And a one time thing, a caught up in the moment lapse, I get it. My understanding though is that this is not a one time thing. And it’s also just one example.
I have my things too. I really like TV and should spend a lot more time doing other things, serving, studying, all sorts of things. And maybe it isn’t “hurting my witness,” but if I’m honest I don’t think I’m helping it. Yes, it’s something I can use, but I don’t want it to be who I am. Because it’s not. I’m a child of God, but it feels a lot more like I’ve been nannied by the television. And while in the privacy of my home, it isn’t different. I’m loving television instead of people. I’m loving television instead of God. Except for the part where it is. Where I’m causing myself to stumble. I’m really just heart-broken. It changes how I see people. And instantly I just felt judgmental. Then I had to wrestle. Am I? Or am I just working towards regaining my discernment?
If I’m a manager at McDonald’s, the way to explain to those under me that they should be on time for work is not to be consistently 15 minutes late. It’s to show up on time, or more likely, early. And YES, they will know we are Christians by our love. But if I start stabbing people because I feel like killing, that’s not going to be showing anyone that I’m a Christian. Or if I start lying because I just don’t feel like telling the truth, that’s probably not the best plan either. And then what’s the line. Yes, it does depend on the individual. To a degree.
I’ll just leave it at this.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Gives his Holy Spirit to you. Why monkey around with that? And what about perpetuating our sins and not even attempting to live differently from our pasts is setting us apart, making us holy, sanctifying us?