Grenade on the Table

March 17, 2018 Justin Peter Gudel

“A gun is a toy.  A weapon has a single purpose.”

Three years ago, I was listening to my friend Isaac describe his time in boot camp.  We were at a tiny coffee house downtown, tucked between financial offices and several trendy restaurants—at least one of which was obscured in artistically done graffiti.  At that point, he’d been a Marine for about a year, and we were finally catching up.

I love stories about experiences foreign to my own.   When I asked Isaac to share one about boot, it came with a cocksure grin.  

“A gun is a toy.  A weapon has a single purpose.”

If you identified your rifle as a gun, and you were in trouble.  If you said that word in front of the drill sergeant, and you were doing push-ups.  By graduation, every soldier knew what they carried. They knew what it was meant for.  

I haven’t thought about that conversation in a long time.  But it came to mind last week, while I tried to write about questions.  Sometimes, when I have to ask a tough question, I like to describe the inquiry as a live grenade.  The imagery here is a proposed topic that needs to be defused, or it will explode.

When I ask a person one of these questions, I frequently go so far as to say, “I have to ask this, and I hope you’ll still be my friend after.”

Who does that!

This lengthy exposition gets me to my point.  What are people? Are people toys? Are they the tools we use to keep ourselves from being lonely?  Are people ordinary?

God calls people His children.  

Should this change the way we look at each other?  Weapons are meant for shooting. Children are meant for our future.  They are for teaching and loving on.

When I talk about PunkChiridion being a ministry about having conversations with people—I am not talking about pointless interactions?  

Conversations are every day (because that word includes so many types of interactions).  They can be intense when there is an agenda attached to it. Those are the ones that start with, “We need to talk.”  We’ve all had those. They cue our brain to begin producing cortisol. We panic. They don’t bring life. But what if we change those words just a bit.

Which sentence sounds more life-affirming?

1) Yesterday, I had a conversation with a non-Christian about why he objects to God.  

2) Yesterday I was listening to a dechurched child of God share his story.  

Forgive me for trying to squeeze nuance here.  I wanted today’s post to be about moving forward.  But when I sat down to write, I realized that I needed a few lines about the words we use when we talk about action.  Because PunkChiridion’s most excellent tool for inviting and challenging people, is its narrative—and narrative can be affected by the words we use.

Too often I’ve heard pastors or Bible study leaders talk about saving lives or that the gospel is life changing.  But when we don’t see it in our everyday lives, it can sound hollow or vapid. It can become a banality.

All those words and slogans are still correct, but to bring life into them, they need energy.  We need examples of people living in those spaces and phrases.

If Punk is going to have a place, it’s going to be, because we realized that we are going to do the things we say we’re going to do.  And we’re saying the right words, the words we’re living every day.

So the grenade on the table today, what are the words in your narrative that need to be removed and replaced?