Saturday, April 1, 2017

What Happens in Vegas

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. 

-- 1 John 3:11-12

Las Vegas has been known as an anything goes type of town for decades. And its reputation is well deserved. No matter the time of day or night, high-stakes gambling, quickie weddings (and divorces) and risqué entertainment are just a casino away. But several years ago, city officials decided to broaden Sin City's appeal. Rather than targeting the lowest common denominator, Las Vegas began to promote itself as a family-friendly vacation destination: a pseudo-Disney World, but with lots more glitz and glam.

If you don't remember that brief change, Las Vegasyou're not alone. It wasn't long before the message was scrapped in favor of the famous What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas campaign. And when an advertising slogan enters the everyday lexicon, you know you've hit the marketing jackpot!

Essentially, a visit to Las Vegas promises days and nights of no-guilt fun and excitement. Nothing that happens has to leave the city limits. And if you don't tell, they certainly won't. At least that's what they say. But that's not how real life works. And as Christ-followers, we know that our Creator already knows about all of our thoughts and actions, regardless of whether we're alone or at a crowded blackjack table. There's no hiding. And one day, we'll all have to give an account of what we've said and done over our lifetime. That should be quite a story for most of us!

Until then, Christ-followers should be light to a dark, blind and desperate world. However, doing the right thing and standing up for our convictions is often tough--and sometimes even painful. Those who refuse to cut corners, shade the truth or puff up their resumes can lose out on careers, friendships and much more. No good deed goes unpunished.

That's what can happen when people are watching. But what about doing the right thing when no one will ever know? Maybe it's that car door you scratched in the crowded mall parking lot. Or the $20 bill that fell from your co-worker's pocket. And think back a few years to when you were playing baseball in your backyard. Who really broke your neighbor's living room window?

Daily circumstances constantly challenge our faith, values and convictions. But Christ-followers are to be true witnesses to the freedom God has given us through the costly sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ. When we accepted his forgiveness for all of the ways we've hurt ourselves and others, we gained the liberty to make a positive difference in this world, and shine a beacon of hope to its inhabitants.

Maybe Las Vegas is the town that never sleeps. But if you stick with Jesus' admonitions for living through faith, you'll see that a good night's sleep with a clear conscience pays off in greater riches than any winning hand at the poker table. 

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