Through the years I’ve had several thoughts on this subject on more than one occasion and have even written them down a time or two. A week or so ago I heard a ten year old boy use a word in a sentence that took me back to this familiar subject. This particular child is a relative, raised in a Christian home, and one could tell that he used it freely and without remorse. Now in the last couple of years, even in my own family, I have heard this same word spoken. It really raises the hair on the back of my neck, as not too long ago it was considered profanity. Who moved it out of that category? The culture. The word I am talking about here is another word for urinating. The dictionary says in its slang form it means to anger. I believe the use of this word by believers is a symptom of another issue.
Years ago, not long after being hired on at the Fire Department, it was required of me to “rove” to many of the stations. Word came down from headquarters or from somewhere higher up that a particular person from one of the stations had been diagnosed with Hepatitis. Now I am not sure which one as there are five different types, but it was strongly advised that anyone who had spent any time at all at that station should be checked for this disease. I went to the doctor to be tested, very shortly after receiving the notice. Now while my memory is not completely clear as to how long this process took, I will never forget the conversation with my doctor. He called me into the office and said good news, while the test shows you have been exposed, you are not contaminated. While certainly I was relieved at the statement my immediate question was “what is the difference?” He said the test showed antibodies in my blood that are only present in people who had been around or exposed to hepatitis. He went on to say that with too much exposure contamination would occur. Well Doc, I asked, how much is too much exposure? He said that it was hard to say and that it varied with each person and that lots of factors figured into the equation. A person’s health and how often the exposure occurred were two critical things in how long someone could prevent contracting the disease. The last thing I remember him saying was the least amount of exposure the better, as even a person with the strongest immune system can only resist so long.
There are many things we as believers cannot prevent exposure to if we are to reach this lost world, but how much do we purposely expose ourselves to for no good reason at all? Scripture is very clear that we are to be in the world but not of the world, and this means to not be like the world. Jesus was radically different, Paul was radically different, but it seems in today’s world there is more and more gray area between who God’s people are and the rest of society. Do we really grasp the meaning of the Scriptures that say “our body is a temple”, or that “we are to be holy?” If we wouldn’t bring something into the church why would we bring it into the temple? I think sometimes we place way too much confidence in ourselves and how strong we are against being influenced. People often comment that just because they read something or watch a movie or a show on TV that doesn’t mean they will follow that example in their own life. Why does the Bible say to choose our friends carefully or to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers? God is concerned about them influencing us, not the other way around. Isn’t this another way of saying that with enough exposure you will be contaminated? Our thoughts become influenced before our behavior. Exposing ourselves unnecessarily over and over again to profanity, for example, eventually affects our spiritual discernment in this area. Our tolerance level for this creeps up slowly and without even knowing it. When is the last time we told someone who uses profanity that it offends us or that we wish they would not use that type of language around us? If someone opened a pornographic magazine in front of us would we say something? Would we be shocked, offended, or walk away? What is the difference? If we went to see a “Christian movie” and there was profanity would we be surprised? Would it bother us? Why? If the Pastor uses that kind of language in his message on Sunday would it bother us? Have we re-defined holiness instead of accepting what the Lord says it is? Aren’t we living our lives for Someone else now? Just because we are not committing a particular sin doesn’t mean we might not be hurting our Christian witness. We all have been exposed; the question is are we contaminated and if so what can we do about it? I’ll discuss this in the next post.