Don’t let sparkle and flash distract you

I got to see something last night that I never expected. I’m in Las Vegas for a trade show for work, some coworkers wanted to go down to the old strip, Fredmont Street. I’d heard about it, of course, but I wasn’t sure what was down there worth seeing.

It’s impressive. I’ll say that much for it. The whole length of the street is covered with a giant curved LED screen that plays light shows at the top of every hour. We made it to the main intersection just as all the lights on the street shut off, and the show overhead began.

Talk about spectacle. It was amazing!

And then, when it was over, we went in search of deep fried Twinkies, which I thought were only something you could get at state fairs. But this is Las Vegas, and apparently you can get whatever you want if you know where to look.

But as all the lights came back on and we started wandering around looking for deep fried Twinkies, the glamor wore off pretty fast, and all that remained was dirty streets and desperate people. Sure, overhead was a neat marvel of technology, and, yeah, the deep fried Twinkie was great, but those superficial pleasures shouldn’t be enough to cover up the fact that there’s a woman in her mid-twenties wearing practically nothing, dancing on a bar to get people to come buy drinks.

Fredmont Street light show, Las Vegas, NV

Fredmont Street light show, Las Vegas, NV

Today’s verse is Ephesians 5:15.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.

Walking down Fredmont Street last night was a great experience for me, but it makes me wonder how many people are distracted by the lights and the flash and completely miss the point of what it is. Fredmont Street may be historic, and it may have some old school charm, but the point of it all hasn’t changed. It’s still all about gambling and all about sex.

I’ve been told people bring their children there. Someone told me it’s family friendly before 8:00 p.m., but I don’t buy that.

When did we start living as though it’s all right to shut off our brains? When did we start letting the lights and the flash and the spectacle drown out the fact that women are being objectified, evil is being glorified, and nobody seems to care? It’s just Las Vegas. That’s what happens here. Like that excuses it.

Maybe it explains it. But it doesn’t excuse it.

Did I enjoy the lights? Sure! Did I like my deep fried Twinkie? Of course! (More than I should probably admit.) But my experience on Fredmont Street only reminded me how blind people can be if they choose it.

Christ-followers aren’t called to live blindly. We aren’t supposed to live like fools, with our eyes shut to evil. No, we are supposed to be wise. That doesn’t always mean we can do anything about it. Most of the time, we won’t be able to change anything.

Did the half-naked women and men on the street last night bother me? Yes. Did the entirely inappropriate marketing of sex and cruelty upset me? Yes. Could I do anything about it? No. And making a fuss wouldn’t have solved anything either.

But what I can do is not make excuses for it. What I can do is call it what it is: sin. What I can do is not be blinded by the lights and the sound and the flash and the sparkle, and I can see the desperate people on the other side, the ones who need Jesus as desperately as I do.

So don’t turn your brain off just because our culture has. Don’t make excuses for evil just because everybody else says it’s okay. If you’re a Christ-follower, you are called to live wisely. Don’t trade wisdom for foolishness just because it’s easy to ignore evil.

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