I think every Christian has a “Doesn’t Count List” (DCL), a collection of small things we do that might not be completely in God’s will for our life, but they’re so tiny they don’t really matter. If you say you don’t have a DCL, apparently lying is one of the items on yours because that’s just what you did.
Here are some things I recently realized were on my Doesn’t Count List:
God is completely cool with this. I know we’re supposed to honor the authority we’re placed under, but God is like the state troopers on this one when it comes to driving faster than the legal limit, “Under 5 you’re fine, Over 5 you’re mine.”
Using the internet at work for personal reasons
Come on, I’m reading www.biblegateway.com and listening to podcasts of sermons. Surely God’s OK with me using time that my company pays me for that? I mean people take smoke breaks all day and I don’t smoke so I’m owed a few minutes of Internet break time here and there. I know that no matter what we do, we’re supposed to do it for the glory of God, which means working hard at work, but let’s be honest, that verse was written before Youtube, and that site has everything.
Doing things you wouldn’t recommend that other Christians do
I caught myself in this one last weekend. A friend sent me a link to a lil’ Wayne remix of Jason Mraz’ song “I’m yours” and it was awesome. I listened to it four or five times to make sure it was clean and then was about to tweet it from my twitter account when I thought, “Is that Christian of me to share that link? I mean it’s lil Wayne. I better not, I don’t want to recommend that other Christians listen to that.” But me? I’m apparently impervious to all sorts of less than holy forms of media. Me? I can handle that. (The second problem in that scenario is that by editing what I tweet but still listening to that song, I create a “twitter Jon” and a “real Jon.” I’m not sure if other Christian bloggers struggle with the temptation to “holy up” how they present themselves online but that is some whackness I need to get under control.)
If you thought I was going to talk about making out, you should be ashamed of yourself. I’m talking about the hook ups friends and family members can get us at stores. For instance, a few weeks ago when I decided to buy a mac laptop, they had a deal where if you were a college kid you could get a free iPod touch with the purchase and a free printer. I seriously considered finding a neighborhood kid to go in with me so that I could get the deal. And although I didn’t take advantage of that discount which honestly did not really apply to me, I’ve done that a number of times in the past.
Those are all pretty silly I guess. You could easily read my Doesn’t Count List and think, “Everybody does that. We can’t be perfect, what’s the big deal?” And you’d be right, we can’t be perfect, but what I’ve found in my own life is that the DCL is never satisfied with staying small and insignificant. It’s a hungry little list. It always wants more of your life. It always wants you to add new things to it. To grow and stretch until it’s a mile long.
When I was in college, I got into an unhealthy dating relationship. We were mutually bad for each other and our combined brokenness only managed to amplify the hurt we were able to cause. When my girlfriend got into techno music, so did I. When my girlfriend started going to raves, so did I. When my girlfriend started doing ecstasy, so did I. How?
I put it on my Doesn’t Count List.
After having years of practice adding “small things” to it and justifying why some things don’t count in God’s eyes, it was surprisingly easy to rationalize ecstasy. As I’ve written about before, in my head I told myself, “Cocaine is a real drug because you have to snort it. Heroin is a real drug because you have to shoot it. Pot is a real drug because you have to smoke it. Ecstasy is just a pill, like aspirin. I’ve swallowed pills before, that’s not a dangerous drug. That’s just a pill.”
As stupid as that sounds, when you’re living in stupid land, stupid decisions and stupid logic make a surprising amount of sense. So I started doing ecstasy. But that wasn’t enough for the DCL. So eventually I smoked some pot. And finally, in one of the scariest nights of my life, I did some acid. I kept adding to my “Doesn’t Count List” until it choked out all the good and made my life not count.
As gross as that all was, the bigger issue might be what keeping a DCL reveals I believe about God. Apparently, in my heart, God is still up in heaven keeping a massive list of things that count and things that don’t count. He’s Santa Claus and I’m a kid trying to hide the pieces of a broken vase under my bed in the hope that they don’t count. Christ’s death must not have been enough, because in my mind, there are still two lists going.
Let’s lose the lists. It all counts. If we could have been saved by a list, God wouldn’t have sent His son, He would have just given us more paper and pens so we could keep better lists. It has to count or Christ’s life doesn’t count. The grace, the mercy, the deep, beating heartbeat of hope from Christ beats loudly because it does count. The gap between me and God was wide and dark. But it was crossed.
Not by me.
Not by my goodness.
Not by lists.
But by Christ.
Because it counts.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I don’t think I’m the only one holding a list in my hand sometimes. How about you? Have you ever had a Doesn’t Count List? What’s on it?