How to Avoid Dancing Off a Cliff
God redeems the seemingly unredeemable. Taking that hope as my cue, I’m going to try to redeem some time I accidentally spent absorbed in a Paw Patrol episode my kids were watching.
Spoiled kid-villain Harold Humdinger was driving a special supervillain vehicle and blaring music from his supersonic sound system. It was so loud that it caused everybody who heard it to involuntarily dance to the music. Soon, an entire conga line of pups and their friends had formed, with each of them following the vehicle and dancing.
As they danced, they looked happy but said things like, “Somebody’s got to do something about this.” Then, when the driver Harold accidentally pulled the steering wheel loose, the vehicle started leading the procession toward a cliff. It became even more urgent for somebody to do something.
“As they danced, they looked happy but said things like, ‘Somebody’s got to do something about this.'”
Don’t worry. The Paw Patrol found a way to save the day as always. It had to do with sound canceling headphones. But that wasn’t the important part. The important part had to do with the bizarre procession of unwilling dancers asking for somebody to do something about the situation.
That’s not a bad picture of our cultural moment.
Social media has grown too powerful, we think as we scroll through our feed. Christians in this nation have become too afraid, we mumble to ourselves as we wring our hands. The cancel-happy outrage machine is at it again. I’m so done with this stupid culture! we think.
It’s as if we’re dancing to the beat of the things we hate. And—to go ahead and drive the Paw Patrol metaphor off the cliff—we’re supposed to be the ones that people in trouble can always call on for help.
“It’s as if we’re dancing to the beat of the things we hate.”
In a cliff-destined culture, there is a sense in which to “offer your bodies” to God is the ultimate daily choice. Here’s what Paul says about it:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:1-2, NIV)
Yet there’s also a very real sense in which “offering your bodies” is not really a choice. Because you will offer your body for some cause. You will dance along to some beat. It may sound like a seismic step to offer your body as a sacrifice to God, but your default mode will always be to move to the strings of one puppet master or another.
“It may sound like a seismic step to offer your body as a sacrifice to God, but your default mode will always be to move to the strings of one puppet master or another.”
The beauty of offering ourselves to God is that the sacrificial altar is more of a birthing unit and the puppet master is more like Geppetto whose hope is for his wooden toy to become a real boy.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The more time allowing the teachings of Jesus to renew your mind, the more strings get snipped. And the more able you’ll be to snatch people from the cultural procession dancing itself off a cliff.