As a young man in college, one time, some friends needed me to babysit their kids. I did it as a favor, but they wanted to pay me. After refusing money, They asked me if I wanted to partake in smoking weed. After some negotiation, I just left with two joints that I didn’t really want. I put them in a clothes drawer. Six months later, I was packing to go home for the summer. As I packed my pants, suddenly there appeared those two, by now, thoroughly dried out joints. Why didn’t I want to participate?
One summer, during my breaks between college years, I had the joy of hitchhiking through Europe. One family met me in Denmark and invited me to spend a week with them in Northern Sweden. During my week, it chanced that the annual one night crawdad fishing event occurred. We went to the spot they drew in the lottery and set out the traps. After a nights fishing, we had a nice haul. The next night, a variety of families got together for a feast. As we ate, they served homemade schnapps. I had never drunk much with my college friends, so I didn’t realize how drunk I got. After a visit to the head to rid my stomach of excess alcohol, I walked home. Instead of enjoying the alcohol I had consumed, I felt it had robbed me of most of the joy of the party.
I was talking with one of the ladies in college with me. She was telling me about breaking up with her boyfriend. He was on his way to get money and power. He needed a trophy wife and had chosen her. He had been grooming her on how a trophy wife behaved, dressed, and talked. Soon, she felt that this was destroying her personality, and had to change. This was one of the events that made me question the value of money and power, which my parents promoted. I didn’t want to partake in something that seemed so shallow, so selfish. Wasn’t there something more to life than making myself the most, the most powerful, the most wealthy, the most famous, the most knowledgeable?
After I rejected the typical answers that are suggested in a university setting, I began to research to see if religion had something that I wanted to participate in. I went to some Hindu meetings. There I would chant repetitively to Krishna. I asked, and was told that I should deny my brain and strive to obtain moksha, the liberation from the cycle of pain, death, and rebirth. To me, this seemed the utter height of selfishness. I had decided that I wanted my life to be worthwhile, and had rejected engaging in worldly selfish acts. Now I was given, instead, unworldly selfish acts. This was not something I wanted to be a party to.
Christianity, on the other hand, blows ones mind. Imagine the Roman world. When they fought against a powerful army and captured the king, they stripped the general and the king, threw them in cages, and took them in a triumphal march back to Rome. Every citizen in the path had the opportunity to throw humility (rotten food and worse) onto the captives. Rome’s triumphal march for less important captives was to nail them to the cross. How can this be the sign of Christ’s triumph over Rome? It is the indication of Rome’s triumph over Christ, isn’t it? My mind found this difficult to encompass.
The key is that He was willing to sacrifice Himself, let Rome think it had triumphed, and then rise victorious over the worst Rome could do. The offer was made to me, “Are you willing to trust me to raise you triumphant over death? Let go of your life, love others instead, and I will bring you through triumphant in the end.” I thought, now this is something I can partake in. He has empowered me in times when life is an adventure, and He has strengthened me during the lowest of low times. During all times, He has put hurting people in my path and said, “I am taking care of you, will you care for them?” I can now tell you wholeheartedly, “If you choose to partake in Jesus’ self-sacrificing lifestyle, trusting Him to care for you, you’ll never regret it.”