Volume 8, Issue 3: Whole Counsel
The Code of Smoothness
The dining hall was full. I liked it that way, because I was new and didn't know anybody. Had the hall been empty, the Code of Smoothness would dictate that I sit alone and play the I'm-Alone-On-Purpose gambit. If you're all alone and sit down with a group of people you don't know, you broadcast this message: Hey guys! `Name's Kenny. I want to sit with you because I'm alone but don't want to be which means that I embarass all I associate with. A packed dining hall is different. There you play the I'd-Rather-Be-Alone-But-I'll-Let-You-Speak-To-Me ploy. So I sailed my tray into an open slip at a crowded table, right next to a girl who needed to meet me. The ploy was on.
What luck! Some Christian group had placed a neon-green table tent at my place. Great for conversation. I picked it up with an attentiongetting eyeroll. Smooth, I thought to myself.
"So, you been to their meetings?" asked the fellow accross the table. The ploy worked: he had initiated, not me.
"Life's too short," I answered. "The Bible's interesting, but I certainly don't believe everything in it."
"I put that here," he said, pointing to that blinding green scrap of publicity before me. "What's wrong with the Bible?"
Oh no. I sat with Bible-bangers. Not smooth, I thought. I coughed and flashed my I-Don't-Know-Where-To-Begin smile. The girl smiled too, so I figured this just might be worthwhile. "Nothing's wrong with the Bible. I just have a problem with putting blind faith in it, that's all."
"Do you believe in God?"
"I do sometimes." The Aloof-And-Mysterious tack would keep me in control of the discussion. I shoveled a mouthful of food to show that I did not intend to qualify my answer.
"Don't you wonder where you came from? or why the world works the way it does?"
"Sure. We all do," I replied with sturdy confidence. "But that doesn't mean anything." I couldn't yet tell whether the girl was on my side or his. I knew she was listening. Time to give her the I'm-The-Gracious Guy-Who-Respects-You treatment, so I turned and asked her what she thought.
"I fear God," she answered with impeccable poise. And to the fellow accross the table she added, "And because I fear God, I'm leery of neon-green promotions of Him." A churchy girl, but smooth. She's odd.
The guy gave her a scowl. "You don't have to fear God," he corrected her. You don't argue with pretty girls, you sap. I resolved to win her to my side. Turning to me he repeated, "You don't have to fear God. He loves you so much that He died for you. All you need to do is love Him in return!"
Here was the classic chink in the Christian's armor. I went after him with my RescueTheDamselFrom TheJerk routine. "When you say that Jesus died for me, you mean, like, He died for my sins?"
"Absolutely!" he exclaimed through a mouthful of soyburger. Then he wiped. "All you have to do is invite Him into your heart, and you will be saved."
What a setup. "Saved?" I asked. "Saved from what?"
"From the wrath of the Holy God you offend," chimed the young lady with astonishing courtesy. Did she just say what I think she said? I didn't know how to respond, but happily, the guy interrupted her with what I wanted to hear.
"Saved from your sins, and from the punishment for your sins, which is hell," he explained. I could tell that he wanted nothing to do with the girl's answer. Neither did I. He continued, "Jesus paid the price for your sins so you wouldn't have to."
"And Jesus paid the price for my sins?" I asked to heighten the effect of my coming blow.
"That depends," said the girl. We both ignored her.
"Of course Jesus paid the price for you!" he chirped. "That's the good news!"
I had him now. "That's great! I don't have to become a Christian, and I can sin all I want. The penalty for all my sins, past, present, and future, has been fully paid by Jesus! He suffered for me so that I wouldn't have to suffer!"
"But you must accept Him," he protested.
"But even if I don't accept Jesus, that would be a sin which He already paid for. You said so yourself. According to you, I don't have to become a Christian, and I still won't go to hell." Game, set, match. I could tell he didn't know what to say. There was nothing he could say. The Code of Smoothness states, Always Stop Your Opponent's Mouth.
The girl continued. Oh yeah, the girl. Did my victory impress her?
"My dad used to say that it was nobody's business whether Christ died for you," she said. The poor crumpled guy let her speak. "The Bible says that Jesus died only for those that the Father gives Him. And those for whom He died will be saved."
"So did Jesus die for me or not?" I pressed.
"You don't stand a chance if He didn't. And if He did, you'll know. His sheep hear His voice. I'll leave you to take it up with Him."
She got up and left. We sat in silence. Neongreen and the Code of Smoothness didn't seem to matter much after that.