Tuesday, January 02, 2007

it's no big deal...everyone does it

All star teams are a decent indicator of some of the better teams... but it's also a popularity contest. You also have to take into account that John Elway wouldn't have been as good had he been stuck on a really awful team with no offensive line and poor coaching. A lot of the great players are seen as great because they're part of a great system...like every running back for Denver.

There are always going to be more players from bigger market clubs because there are more fans that will vote for them. They're also surrounded by great players that will help them to look great. They're not going to chance walking a great hitter if they know that the next guy up has a decent chance of driving him in. Because of this, the great hitter will see more fast balls down the middle...and he'll look even better. You look better than you are because the people around you make you look better.

Friends are a lot like this. Most groups have a certain morality that's acceptable. You can be the nice guy in your group if you occasionally share your drugs with your friends. You can be the good roommate if you don't rat people out when they shank another prisoner. You can be the really trustworthy friend in the group if you're the one who won't steal everyone's stuff when they step out for a smoke.

If everyone is involved in crap - then there's a certain comfort level in that. People base their morality largely on how the people around them are doing...and where they stack up next to them.

I've seen people base their morality around their surroundings...and the gradual acceptance of more deviant or wrong behavior, then I've seen people base it on their religion. I've seen it more than I've seen them base it on their upbringing. I've seen it affect people's decision making more than I've seen any other factor.

People bring you up...or they bring you down.

Misery loves company.

Joy loves company.

So the question has to be - are they bringing you up...or pulling you down?


  1. I'd rather be doing my best and being the crappiest among people that are doing awesome stuff than being the best at sucking among people that are all sucking and stuck there.

  2. So we all hang out with all the perfect people so we don't slip up?

    Who hangs out with the people who aren't so perfect?

    I'm ok with slipping up here and there so I can put myself within the circle of influence of people who don't know Jesus.

  3. none of us are perfect - so I'll start with that

    It is helpful to take a look around every once in a while to see how you're reacting to your environment.

    (I just cut out a bunch of stuff here that 7 people would take personally - "I know he's talking about me!")

    Iron sharpens iron in the same way that friends of mine shape me...and how I love the people around me

    I think that's a valid thing for people to consider...it's a slippery slope and we all slide

  4. I do agree with your primary point, Sean. I think about this all the time, and I always worry that my "liberal" lifestyle (i.e. I drink, I curse, I cuddle with Bragg) models something to Christians that leads them astray. Everytime I go to a bar, and one of the Christians I'm with drinks too much, I think about it.

    Again, for me, I've decided that I'm going to hang around people, and hang around places, that are more likely to lead to me drinking too much, or hitting on some girl, or whatever, because I feel like those are the people and places that I'm meant to spend my life around. I will make mistakes, and get wounded, and take criticism for that decision, but it's worth it to see people far away from Jesus move a little closer.

    Now, for the most part, I have adapted to those situations. I rarely get drunk; I rarely hit on girls in bars; I rarely get caught up in that world. But, when I bring other Christians into that world, they sometimes take hits that they may not be ready for. So, my battle has become this - how do you teach other people to go into the dark places in this world without losing them to those dark places? Not sure I have the answer to that question yet.

    All of that to say that I'm willing to error on the side of putting Christians at risk in order to reach out to non-Christians. No matter how much a Christian gets drunk, he or she still has their eternity set. Non-Christians probably aren't in that same position.

    Christians are so self-focused - "Am I happy? Am I healthy? Am I being good? Am I sinning?" Blah, blah, blah. We need to shift our focus, and as we're serving others, our own lives will work themselves out.

    I just get nervous when I hear a "retreat" response. You know, let's all head back to the church and lock all the doors because sometimes we mess up out in the world. We live, we learn, we grow, and we keep moving forward. But we should never retreat.

    I feel like Mike Brown now. Sorry for the long response.

  5. I know you like to take the contrary side - but to say that Christians are so "self focused", as though non-Christians aren't...just seems silly. Why would you set them aside like that's the primary characteristic of a follower of Jesus?

    we all struggle with self focus

    and to say that being introspective - or to take the view of asking God to "Search me and know me....see if there is anything offensive" can be written off as "blah, blah, blah" seems either harmful or just an argument for the sake of arguing... I can't fathom you believing that.

    We both know people who are having an incredible impact on the world around them...and I don't see what you're talking about in their lives. They're deep in the world of folks who have very different views about Faith, politics, morality, etc. I don't hear the same either/or arguments from these guys.

    I just wonder if it's just easier to excuse by arguing it your way.

    I also think the Steelers are a much better football team.

  6. A) I never said Christians were more self-focused than non-Christians. People are self-focused, but I believe Christians should be held to a higher standard. In Matthew 11, John was self-focused; Jesus responded in a way that asked him to be more other-focused. I think Christians fall too deep into the world's "self-help" mentality - we need to be better than that.

    B) I never said Christians shouldn't work on themselves. Of course we should always be growing. What I'm saying is that so much of what I hear these days is Christians talking about themselves, when maybe we need to stop worrying so much about ourselves, and worry a little more about other people. (Test: How often do we pray for ourselves vs. how often do we pray for others?) And, I truly believe, that as we shift our focus from "us" to "others," that we get healed in the process.

    C) I'm not sure I made an either/or argument. We both know some of the same people who are having that impact. But they are serving who they are meant to serve; and I serve who I am meant to serve; and you are serving who you are meant to serve. I'm just saying that people like me have our unique set of battles we must fight. And you have yours; and Evan has his; etc. I'm not excusing the behavior - I'm saying the behavior is part of the battle.

    Should Christians get drunk? No. Is that a struggle that a Christian will face as he or she becomes friends with non-Christians who hang out in the bars and drink? Yes, it is. Just like living, working, and going to church in the Burbs has challenges.

    Because, let's face it, there are people I will tell Jesus about who you or Evan or whomever will never get the chance to meet because of choices you've made about where you hang out and who you hang out with. And vice-versa. That's the beauty of the body. Again, I don't want to excuse sinful behavior; BUT I ALSO DON'T WANT TO CALL A FULL RETREAT BECAUSE PEOPLE SLIP UP FROM TIME TO TIME.

    Falling down gives us a great opportunity to stand back up - a little wiser, and a little stronger. I just believe it's worth us slipping up to put ourselves out there in the world to build friendships with non-believers.

    No offense to your lovely wife, but I just can't get on board with that mentality. I'd rather be hanging with a bunch of people who are sucking (not like that, perverts), and in my weaknesses, trying to model a better way, than stuck in a room with a bunch of "ultras" who never step into the world.

    You know I love you; and you know I respect you; and you should know I think you have had, and continue to have a huge impact on people. None of that is being questioned. But, just like you fear someone could read my words and use it as an excuse to sin, I fear people could read your words and use it as an excuse to huddle with their awesome Christian friends and ignore a lot of messy folks who need Jesus.

    D) Steelers suck.

  7. No offense taken, well a little is. Please don't mistake what I was saying as those people who are doing awesome stuff being my mission. I have my tight crew that I hang with that are pointing me toward Jesus and that encourage me and then I have the people that I believe I am called to be with/show Jesus to. Those are clearly two different groups in my life. Those two groups are distinct and important. But I am not doing this alone and need both groups.

    It seems like a few times lately you have come across as your mess being more valuable and drawing more people to Jesus than mine, not mine specific. While I know or at least think I know that isn't what you are meaning, it sounds that way at times. And maybe I am too sensitive/defensive but there are some things that I am reading that some could read as being hurtful. I don't even know if hurtful is the right word...

    I know because I have asked you how Jesus was shown to people in some of the situations you have been in and you have answered you don't know yet or not with words. Unless you have seen those people again, that isn't building a relationship.

    I am really just thinking through things and wondering if I should delete this whole thing. I also wonder if you will ever hang out with us and eat. I'd love to have a real conversation instead of a cybersation because I am really frustrated and kind of wanting to rip my hair out.

  8. Annie,

    I never say my mess or my ministry is more valuable than yours or anyone else's. People seem to feel like I say that when I never do. If you can find one place in anything I've ever written where I say my life, or my way of sharing Jesus, is "better" than anyone else's, I'll buy you a coke. I just feel like I often have to defend myself, but I don't communicate less value to anyone else. Like always, there are a number of times in my comments where I specifically say what other people do has great value. And I continue to say that. What I will always defend is those of us who don't fit into the suburban Christian model. I am in no way mocking that model, I'm just saying that sometimes the Christian life gets a different kind of messy in my world. I know you both know that, but what you and Sean wrote came across to me (and maybe I'm the only one in the world) as a little too neat and tidy, and I'd hate to see people who are doing some great ministry read those words and decide to retreat to a more "tidy" life.

    And I'm not sure we've really had a conversation about "how Jesus was shown in some of the situations I've been in." We should, because if I've communicated that, "I don't know," or , "I'm not sure," then I have been a terrible communicator. We should talk about that over dinner sometime (if you guys would ever invite me).

    And honestly, maybe I just need to talk about it more on my blog. I hate "bragging," so I always shy away from talking about all the conversations I have, and all the ways I build relationships with people, but maybe I need to suck it up and just start reporting more.

    This is what happens when I don't blog for over a week...too much built up energy. I honestly didn't mean to get into a debate; it just sort of happened. We should all continue this in person. I apologize if anything I said was hurtful - that was never my intention. I love you both. Especially Sean. But especially you. But especially Sean.

  9. Steve,
    I know that you said you don't communicate less value to anyone else but I have to say that there are times when I have felt that coming through in what you've said.
    Neat and tidy is not my life and that came across as sort of back handed. Again I realize I am defensive but here is how I heard that, "There are so many roles and they are all valuable but I am choosing the messy, hard work and not the easy way."
    And one last thing...I remember two specific times that I asked you about "how Jesus was shown in some of the situations I've been in." And maybe it was an inopportune time or still too new but I remember your responses.
    So now, diapers beckon.

  10. I feel like everyone is missing the point here - I said the Steelers were a better team (based on overall record vs Bengals, Super Bowl championships, team uniform, hall of famers...)

    and that was ignored!?

  11. Sean, Annie, et al:

    I'm sorry. I was trying to offer some encouragement for folks who might read Sean's blog and fight the battle of hanging out with people who might be bringing them down, but in turn, are bringing the overall group up. Other people have learned that expressing themselves through a blog leads to miscommunications and an overall frustration with being misunderstood. I have now learned that same lesson. From now on I'll stick to the one-liners and man-on-man flirting.


  12. I'm with you dog. I always appreciate your thoughts...always.

  13. Ok, forget everything I said. This is what I meant to say: We need to be careful about removing ourselves from groups that bring us down, because that group may need us to bring them up.


  14. This debate makes this blog good.

  15. Steve, Can you still come over sometime? I'd like to punch your face.

  16. Wow. I'm ready for both man on man flirting love comments and getting punched in the face.

    Being misunderstood sucks. Having other people read into what you're saying sucks. Having other people interpret those thoughts and spinning them sucks. I have been both guilty and a victim of that and I'm still trying to figure out if it's worth it to post anything deeper than coffee talk or hollywood crushes.

    Regardless, I would hope that the three of you don't stop tackling the deep issues. I may not have the intelligence to make a valid argument, what with my mild retardedness, but you can knock it out of the park when the game is on the line.

  17. Anonymous9:12 PM

    i almost dont want to comment bc this is so much but here is what all of this made me think of:

    i wonder if this is why Jesus refused to make just one "greatest commandment" and instead said BOTH to love God (be built up) AND love others (be in the junk of the world)

    ok thats it- please dont punch me.

  18. good point, but I'd hate to boil down the second commandment to just "be in the junk of the world"

    because of our love for God, and His love for the world...it's the most natural thing in the world to love others - Christians/non-believers alike.

    No one is arguing that you don't love others...or non-Christians...it's just a question of -are you putting yourself in a position (consistently) to be held accountable (which I think is probably some of the defensiveness of a lot of this - pride can take a hit when we put ourselves in a position of accountability) encouraged and sharpened?