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Values Clarification

In 1985, I was a sophomore at Temple University in Philadelphia, studying communications and journalism. I was learning to find my way in the world and carve out my own voice. Of course, music was a cornerstone in my life away from home in the big city. I valued all kinds of music. That year, one of my favorite controversial out spoken artists created an album that would change the trajectory of my life with Jesus; a Christian artist named Steve Taylor. I loved his outspoken take on current events and the challenge to Christians everywhere to live differently; to be counter cultural and to speak out against injustice wherever it was happening, even if that was inside the faith community.

Wikipedia’s info on the album… “On the Fritz” is the title of the third release and second full-length album by Christian rock singer-songwriter Steve Taylor. After its release, the album peaked at the No. 8 slot on Billboard's Top Contemporary Christian album chart.”

One of my favorite tracks on the album was the song, Lifeboat (I would have listed the lyrics in this post but ALL of you would have been offended by the crass truth of the song. It’s not about being politically correct for me but sometimes you should err on the side of respecting others more than the point you want to make or get across!)

Lifeboat was a game we played in youth ministry; less of a game and more of a metal exercise in values clarifications. Simply, in the exercise called “lifeboat”, groups get a list of 7 fictitious people (descriptions of those people included race, religion, age, career choice, mental capacity, physical abilities, etc.) with the pretend scenario that these 7 people have survived a boat crash with one lifeboat that can only carry 5 people. The group must decide which people get saved and which 2 people have to die or be left floating in the water! FYI, the song by Steve Taylor goes through the same scenario.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this song and that challenging mental exercise from long ago that we used in youth ministry to teach kids about the value of people and how Jesus sees people. I think that song/mental exercise is applicable once again to what we are experiencing during this pandemic. I am discouraged and disheartened to read all the garbage and opinions I see on social media regarding the coronavirus, face coverings, the economy, etc. I need to stop here or I will say things that aren’t very pastoral nor represent Jesus well. Frankly, I think those of us who call ourselves “christians” should take a harder look in the mirror.

Do you want to play Lifeboat? Here you go… you can only save 4 people out of 7.

Who will you save?

Person 1: a young immigrant mother with a baby.

Person 2: a vocal Black Lives Matter supporter

Person 3: an 18 year old boy with autism

Person 4: a young pastor who has lead 25 people to Christ personally

Person 5: a 75 year old man with coronavirus

Person 6: a staunch Republican and avid Trump supporter

Person 7: a female addict with 3 months of sobriety to her credit

Does this help you clarify who or what you value?

What does Jesus value? Who does Jesus save?

One more exercise for you to wrestle with…

In your organization, church family or business, if you had one person (person X) in your group who had a respiratory condition and needed everyone in the organization to wear a face covering so they could be employed, attend church or participate in the life of the organization, would you wear a mask for person X? How long would you be willing to wear it? If you claim faith and believe in Jesus, would this change your opinion or actions?

It’s a long post and I am sure by now I have irritated you, and if I haven’t, then you’re not thinking and feeling much of anything these days. I conclude with words from the apostle Paul… “Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.” 1 Corinthians 9:19 (you should read chapters 8, 9 and 10 altogether)

Jesus loves me and you and everyone you can’t stand to be around or don’t agree with or disagree with; He also loves people just like you who think like you and have opinions like you and believe the things you believe in… Jesus loves us and doesn’t want any of the rhetoric and issues of the day to divide us, discourage us or destroy us.

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