This past week I had the immense pleasure of heading with some friends on a vacation to Las Vegas for my birthday. It was, quite simply, one of the most fun times I've ever had in my life.
The coming home however, shredded my heart in a multitude of tiny lacerations. It was in the tone of voice and the raised eye-brows. It was even in the subtle teasing and prodding of my beloved father "They call it Sin City, do you know that?" The words he spoke in humor and jest, but unspoken chastisement was a familiar lash.
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.Don't misunderstand; I am of a singular mind and resolved in my convictions. The peace I found for my own walk is still blown about by the judgments of others. When presented with their own questioning, it makes me second-guess myself as well. As it should. It is not my wish to cause another to stumble. I want only to bring Him glory. As a lamb amongst the wolves, it requires constant vigilance and sacrifice.
-- John 17:14-16
I want to be in the world. It is where I live. Where those I would serve reside. How else to lead a rich, full life, amongst those I care about most deeply if not alongside them. If I'm not willing to walk their shoes and share their lives, what makes me qualified to serve?
It is in these amazing times of bonding and recreation that you see clearly what motivates and moves people. When faced with so many compromises, the knife-edged morality we wield stands out in sharp relief.
I am not so naïve as to think this isn't a slippery slope. The dangers of spending too much time amidst the temptations of the world are very real to me. The apostle was clear that we can rationalize almost any worldly behavior given sufficient motivation. Just because it's tempting, just because it's hard, doesn't mean we can just close ourselves off and reject relationships and lifestyles that we are not our own. Just spending a weekend of self-indulgent relaxation does not mean I'm going to end up with a needle in my arm or catch herpes. You can get rowdy and wild without losing your inner compass.
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.So I partied in Vegas. But I still served my friends. My faith is intact and most of my dignity. I am surely in this world. It's my hope I stand apart from it.
-- 1 John 2:17