Summary: How do we buy into the lame excuses we offer without crumbling under the internal conflict we generate from living in ways that are contrary to what we say we believe? The truth is, it all comes down to the way we view the world – it comes down to what f
I want to tell you a story this morning – a funny, yet strangely disturbing story. The setting was a small group retreat with a bunch of teenage boys – I was one of the leaders. We’d had a really good weekend; sharing our faith stories, digging into the Scriptures, spending time in prayer together. We were on our way home – I was driving the van with most of the boys, the other leader was driving his family car with the other two or three. About a quarter of the way home, the family car began to overheat – there was a leak in the cooling system.
We pulled into a farmers market to let the car cool down and add some water, hopefully it would be enough to see us home. While we were waiting, a couple of the boys got thirsty and wandered over to a service station that had some pop machines outside. I hung out for a few minutes with the other leader – checking on his car and reflecting on the weekend. Then I ambled over to the van, grabbed a hand full of change and headed over to the pop machines. What I found astounds me to this day.
One of the young men was tall and thin. He’d lain down with his back against the machine and worked his hand up into the thing and was gleefully pulling out pops for all his buddies. When asked what he was doing his answer was, “I was just curious to see if I could do it.” When I asked him if he realized he was stealing, he said the thought never entered his mind – he was just being curious.
Just being curious! Did you hear that – no malicious intent, no thought of dishonest gain; not even a hint of knowingly doing something wrong. He was just curious! Now the thing you need to know – this was a solid Christian kid, from a solid Christian family, who went to a Christian school. He is in ministry today. So why didn’t it enter his mind at that time to think that he was stealing? How could this solidly Christian kid end up unwittingly a thief?
There are a number of answers that could be given – one’s that we often hear in life’s moments where something similar happens; we lose our cool during a sporting event and take a pot shot at our opponent, or we let something hurtful slip out while we’re in an argument with a family member. We excuse our behavior by saying we got caught up in the moment or the person had it coming. We take pens and paper or other office supplies from work and say that the business uses it as a tax write off, they have so much they’ll never miss it. We get caught up in an emotionally messy, maybe even sexually-charged, relationship with someone other than our spouse and say it wasn’t our fault – if our spouse had only paid more attention to us it would not have happened.
So I guess the real question is how do we let ourselves get away with it? How do we buy into the lame excuses we offer without crumbling under the internal conflict we generate from living in ways that are contrary to what we say we believe? The truth is, it all comes down to the way we view the world – it comes down to what forms the basis, the foundation for our thinking; in what terms we define reality.