Lessons from the Bar

Lessons from the Bar

Do you think that Lindsay Lohan needs God?

That’s the question a friend asked me last night at Boys Night Out, an informal gathering of guys each week at a local bar.  All the guys are Jewish except me.  Several are Israeli, including the neighbor who invited me over a year ago.  Even though my neighbor has moved I’ve been attending ever since and have really enjoyed getting to know these guys.  You never know who is going to show up.  Last night, for instance, two young, Chabad rabbbi’s-in-training from Crown Heights, Brooklyn showed up.  They are on a mission to reach non-religious Jews.  It’s not often you get to hang out with Hasidic-looking zealots in a bar.  What’s that joke about a rabbi, a priest and a Baptist minister who come into a bar . . . . . ?

My friend, who thinks that religion has messed everything up, obviously thinks that Lindsay Lohan needs something.  The actress was just sentenced to ninety days in jail and ninety days in rehab after several probation violations.

When someone wrecks their life so publicly, the need for some kind of changed life is unavoidable.  Our need is less obvious when we do a better job of managing our lives, of staying out of trouble.

But, here’s the thing, we need God most when we don’t seem to need God at all.

The most dangerous place to be is not the place where you have wrecked.  It feels like the worst, and seems like the worst.  But, when your need is so obvious, it’s the best place to be.

That reality is seen in the great story that Jesus tells in Luke 15 about the son who wrecked his life – the Prodigal Son parable.  When he had nothing left, was working in a pig-sty, not making enough to even feed himself – the pigs were eating better, he came to his senses.  And you know the rest of the story.  A great homecoming, a great party.

The worse place to be was where the older brother was, at home being the good son, being compliant, not in any trouble, but totally unaware of his need.  The story has a happy ending for the son who wrecked his life.  We’re not sure of what happened to the son who didn’t.

So, today, I’m not in trouble like Lindsay Lohan.  My crying face is not splashed over every media outlet.  But, there’s a very good chance that I need God more than she does.

I need God to keep my mind and heart alive with love for the things worth loving – starting with God, my wife, my kids, my church, my neighbors.  I desperately lneed God to keep me from settling for a self-satisfied life that just seeks entertainment rather than purpose.  I need God to help me believe the best things he has done for me and others so that I might live with a glad response.

Who doesn’t need God?  Raise your hand if you don’t think you do.  I dare you.

Instead, think of some reasons you need God today.