Back in the Spring, our family took a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. We had so much fun on this trip… especially our girls!
One day, as we were riding on the Magic Kingdom train, I remembered a story from back in college. Some friends and I climbed on top of a slow-moving train during a banquet that was being held on the train and explored a little. It was fun until I almost got knocked off by a low-hanging tree branch!
While I was riding the train at Disney Word, I laughed at the memory and still think on that impulsive and dangerous action as a memorable adventure!
However, if I were to tell that story to a group of high school students, what would the moral of the story be? (I’m always thinking like a teacher).
- YOLO (You Only Live Once) – so have fun with life while you are alive
- It was college. Everybody does stupid and insane things in college. No harm done. You’ll do stupid stuff, too… just be careful
- I was wrong. I shouldn’t have done that. You shouldn’t do stuff like that either.
- WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) – If Jesus were with me, would I have done that? Probably not. So you shouldn’t do it either. Jesus is always with you, so you should be good.
Or maybe more realistic:
- We all do some pretty crazy things in life. Some things we’ll be proud of and some things we’re not proud of (and wish we could forget). It seems that the Gospel of Jesus Christ forgives us of the not-so-proud moments and challenges us to not be self-righteous (and think somehow we have earned God’s favor) by the proud moments in life.
We can never re-live a moment in time. We can, however, allow the Gospel to redeem those moments (whether good or bad or anything in between).
Should I have climbed up on that moving train?
Probably not. But it was fun, thrilling, and memorable. However,
Would I do it again, knowing what I know now?
Would I discourage or encourage doing something dangerous and potentially wrong to a high school student?
I don’t know, and probably not (in that order).
I think the older I get, the more of a chicken I get! So I probably wouldn’t do it again myself. Would I encourage or discourage similar behavior to a young person? I’m not going to do that either. We each have to live our lives… all by the decisions we make for ourselves… and each of us has to live with whatever consequences come our way related to those good/bad decisions we make.
So if I say, “No, learn from my mistake and don’t do it” … often that leads only to outward morality and always needing an external source of motivation to prevent malady. I can’t be one’s Jiminy Cricket of the Holy Spirit.
Or if I was to say, “Yes, you should live life dangerously” … then I’m just telling you to live as if Christ’s forgiveness is a towel for you to use when you get wet (or when you sin).
My job in telling or sharing a story is merely to share that I am part of the human race and that I am not perfect. We ALL make mistakes… things in our past that we are not proud of. Those things, for better or worse, have shaped who I am. What’s even more dangerous, however, is not the bad things I’ve done, but the good ones that I rest my own salvation on instead of Christ’s salvation. We tend to make life binary: good or bad. And while humanity might be just that simple, it is not how the Gospel works. Thank goodness I don’t have to make up or fix my own bad mistakes (both in the present and in the past), and that I can’t rely only on my good choices (because it seems I don’t make enough of those either).
Thank goodness that even though I might live in a binary world, I am not bound by it and am actually, in Christ, freed from it.