It's Friday morning; I've had a subject in my head for about 24 hours that has been working itself into a full-fledged thought line that would make a bang-up blog post. And then last night happened...
Tim Terrific does it again...
It's getting to the point where casual fans or those who aren't even really football fans are starting to be touched by the buzz surrounding the man who some call the worst quarterback in the NFL. The problem is, this mess of mechanics, this poster-boy for what is not an NFL-caliber quarterback...is winning. The Denver Broncos are 5-5; not a stellar win-loss record. But they are 4-1 since Tebow began starting games and, believe it or not, are a half-game out of first place in the generally woeful AFC West.
But this blog post is not about Tim Tebow...
I've been thinking a lot about human nature lately. It actually started back in September or October as I was getting ready to head off to Haiti on our latest mission trip. One of these days I'm going to break down and start learning Creole. If God continues to call me to Haiti it's a given that learning the language is something I need to do. But in lieu of learning Creole this year, I brushed up on the little French I know and while researching Les Cayes, the area where we were going to be working, I ran across some Haitian proverbs.
Recent readers may remember the proverb Dye mon gen mon that I wrote about on November 14th. Beyond the mountain is another mountain. The proverb that got me thinking yesterday is Degaje pa peche. The literal translation I found was managed by sin. However it's more colloquially understood to mean to get by is not a sin. What does that mean? Basically, it means if I have to do something that I might not normally do - lie, cheat, steal, bend the rules if not completely break them - in order to get by...to feed myself or my family or to somehow survive, then it's not a bad thing.
I think Solomon recognized this mindset back in the day; Proverbs 28:21 [NIV] says, "To show partiality is not good--yet a man will do wrong for a piece of bread."
Motorized bike...sort of
In the grand scheme of things, getting a boost from passing vehicles while riding your bike is probably not something many people consider sinful. However, our translator said it was illegal (as it is in the USA). We all agreed the greater risk likely lay in the danger, not the illegality. Driving through Haiti - especially in Port au Prince - can be harrowing enough. But holding on to a speeding truck while riding a rickety bike? The man in the picture was apparently willing to break the law in order to cut his travel time significantly, even at the risk of physical harm, if not arrest.
All of this got me thinking about how we live out our Christian faith. What things do we do each day or maybe just occasionally that would fall under the heading of to get by is not a sin? Do we speed in our cars to get somewhere more quickly - kind of like the man on the bike? Do we hit the express lane at the grocery store with more than ten items because we have somewhere else to be? Do we cheat on our taxes because we need that extra money this year from our return? Do we take advantage of someone else's misfortune when it benefits us and no one knows? Do we throw someone under the bus at work because it makes us look better or gives us a leg up for promotion?
I could go on...and I could give specific examples of where I've fallen short of God's perfect standard...today, yesterday...even while I was in Haiti on mission. How bad is that?
We are creatures who desire comfort. We like to be comfortable. And we like to feel important and valulable. So I totally get the mindset behind to get by is not a sin. And as I've mentioned before, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere so, can we really blame them if hitching a ride, keeping some found money, snitching a loaf of bread for their family...doesn't feel like it's a bad thing?
I'm not writing this to judge the man catching a free tow. I'm trying not to be the judging kind. What I want to do - and what all of us need to do more of - is think about stuff. You may be reading this and you're not a Christian. You might be thinking to yourself, 'How can that guy possibly turn any subject into a discussion about faith?'
The answer to that is, 'Because everything we do impacts our faith.' Jesus' Apostles personally witnessed some amazing things during His time on Earth. But when Jesus told them to go and make disciples of all nations, he wasn't talking about them just going and telling them about the Gospel of salvation, he wanted their whole lives to be a witness for others. He wanted their faith to be an unspoken component of the Gospel that, like creation, bears silent witness to its veracity.
As Christians, we often quote Romans 1:20 when talking to others about how God's creation speaks for itself. Apply that to your life. If someone you know is talking to others about your faith, can they say it (your faith) speaks for itself? Or do they stumble over some of the things you may have done to get by?
Degaje pa peche may be true on Earth, but if we claim to follow God, we are held to a much higher standard. Yes, salvation is a free gift from our Creator, but our faith should reflect His grace, not the same old, worldly attitudes we carried with us before. I know I've got a ways to go, but I'm trying.
What do you think?