Can you picture the shores of New Jersey? Crystal clear waters lapping up on flawless sands, and you can faintly hear the soothing calls of seagulls as they skim the beach for leftover picnic food left by families who spent their day playing along the coastline.
Oh wait, that would be a picture from 100 years ago or so, because today the shores of New Jersey are called the Jersey Shore, and they are not exactly, shall we say, a clean family environment.
Look! There's Snooki! And what's that she's saying? "My bronzer is leaking off my face…"
Tough times Snooki.
And what's that we hear from The Situation? "I mean this situation is gonna be indescribable, you can't even describe the situation that you're about to get into the situation."
Can we all agree that such brilliant comments rival even the best thinkers of our day?
No doubt, Jersey Shore has somehow captured the hearts of millions, and it looks like the beaches of this beautiful train wreck of a show are not closing up anytime soon.
So, would you want to hang out with the fist-pumping-gym-tanning laundry gang from the northeast? I agree that there is a certain appeal to their sense of humor when it isn't riddled with profanity, but then another part of me would worry about an IQ dropage of at least 50 points or so within the first hour.
This may come as a surprise, but I believe if Jesus physically walked the earth today, His footprints would be found in the sands of the Jersey Shore.
Now before you dismiss this opinion as radically ridiculous, I'll have you know that it is based on solid examples from what we already know about the life of our Savior:
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people-even eating with them!
So Jesus told them this story: "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away! (Luke 15:1-7).
Jesus is a friend to the sick, the poor, the hurting and the abandoned… but it is clear from the Bible that He has a special place for those who were labeled 'sinners' by the church going crowd. They pegged Him as a party bus driver, but they entirely missed the point.
Jesus didn't love or accept the party scene, but His heart broke for what was really going on in the hearts of the party people. They may raise a glass to cheer on the unrestrained life of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, yet on the inside the true lyrics of their soundtrack are hurt, pain, loneliness, and rejection. They are 'lost sheep', and Jesus is the good shepherd who wants to lead them back to a path of fulfillment and purpose that is infinitely preferable to a perpetual lost weekend of pleasure pursuits.
If you are a Christ follower, you need to follow His heart for the Jersey Shore people. People who live like that have something broken deep inside, and the only life-giving cure is the gospel message. When you trust Christ, you have a restored relationship with the God who handcrafted you and promises this:
"I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life" (John 10:7; 9-10).
So what's your 'situation'? Why not join the cause of Jesus Christ to reach those who have wandered away from the 'rich and satisfying life' that God has planned for them? Remember that the party laughter is usually followed by lonely weeping in the late watches of the night, and Jesus wants to turn those tears into true joy through your faithfulness in sharing His love and message of forgiveness.
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Talk to your friends about the popularity of Jersey Shore and what they think about it. Pray for an opportunity to talk about Jesus' lifestyle of hanging around with the 'lost sheep' because of His heart for those who were hurting and masking their pain with the party scene.
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, "He has a demon." The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, "Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and 'sinners.'" But wisdom is proved right by all her children (Luke 7:33-35).
Not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? (1 Corinthians 5:10-12).
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:44-48).