The Day I Stepped on a Joint

It was the last day of my junior year in high school. There was no classwork that day. Students spent most of their days signing yearbooks and saying goodbye for the summer. Girls would hug one another, often tearfully, and guys would mostly grunt.

A rite of passage that day was juniors taking over the “Senior Quad” which, although not quadrangular, was the place on campus where only seniors were allowed to sit. It was a pretty big deal, and people whooped and celebrated the ascendancy. They then sat down to sign yearbooks and say goodbye.

I was sitting on the grass with my back against a low wall signing a friend’s yearbook when something dropped on the ground next to me.  I turned and saw a still burning joint. About half of the cigarette remained. Without thinking, I stuck out my foot and crushed the cigarette into the ground, extinguishing the joint and with it any hope of it returning to its intended use. The joint’s owner looked at me in disgust and said, “Barrett!” in a mournfully angry tone and walked away.

I later wondered how it was that I had gotten away with my act. Robert, owner of the joint, was known to be hot-tempered (He had once punched me in the face once over some comment I had made in a class). I realized over time that he did not get angry because I had done exactly what was expected of me. I was known to be a devout Christian, someone opposed to drugs. Stepping on the burning joint was perfectly in line with my character. It was as if he blamed himself for being foolish enough to drop his joint next to a known joint killer.

I think of that story often, as it represents an aspect of the Christian faith that many forget. Those who truly embrace the faith should be somewhat predictable in their behavior. In the positive sense, we should be predictably kind, gracious, and faithful and we should live out the tenets of our faith. Our speech should be appropriate and people should expect to hear us talk about what we believe as an explanation for our lives.

In a negative sense, we should be expected to speak out against wrongdoing, and to avoid immorality. There are parties we will not go to, movies we will not watch and celebrations we will not join. Our commitment to our faith and to biblical principles should make us at times boringly predictable.

While some may be offended, that should not be a concern. Like Robert the joint owner, they should know what to expect.

-          Bart

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