Side Effects

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I was watching a football game when a drug commercial flashed across the screen. Most of the ad was spent listing the side effects. I heard the first part: “May cause
drowsiness, dizziness, amnesia and bankruptcy.” But it all went too fast. For all I know it may have gone something like this: “Side effects may include nausea,
dizziness, itchy earlobes, sleeplessness, and gout. You may also experience illusions of invincibility, swelling of the ego, memory loss, and also memory loss.
Do not consume alcohol while taking this pill. Or vegetables. Or anything yellow. Under no circumstances eat yak. If fungus starts to grow in your bellybutton, call
the Guinness Book of World Records. If you begin spontaneously speaking Mandarin, hire an interpreter. Do not attempt to operate an electronic egg beater while on this pill. If you have visions of elephants in tiaras doing the cha-cha, sit back and enjoy the show.”

I’m sure you’ve seen those commercials too. Maybe you’ve picked up a box of pills and laughed as you’ve read warning label. Here’s one that made me laugh: “If you cannot read warning labels, do not use this product.” I wonder what would happen if some of us wore warning labels. Would they say, “Grouchy. Irritable. Hypocritical. Judgmental. Avoid this guy like the plague.”? A few times on airplanes I’ve asked seat mates, “What comes to mind when you think of Christians?” I’m sad to report that I rarely hear the word gracious. How is it possible that we Christians could make the Good News look so bad? Shouldn’t “cranky Christian” be an oxymoron on the level of jumbo shrimp and Microsoft works?

Following Jesus should have very powerful side effects, don’t you think? What if our warning labels looked more like this: “Caution: this believer may
forgive when it seems impossible, love when it seems unreasonable, and over-tip in restaurants. She may exhibit qualities like kindness, goodness, and patience. She may know more about selflessness than how to take selfies. He will help the poor, treat others as he’d like to be treated, and turn the cheek you already smacked so you can have a go at the other one. After all, he’s a follower of Jesus.” I’d love to see more of those side effects in my own life. If you would too, here’s a prescription I’m told should help. Start each day with an attitude of thanksgiving. Chase it down with a solid dose of truth from the Bible. Top it off by fixing your eyes on Jesus and go looking for needs you can meet.

You just may find that those old warning labels will fall off like Post-It Notes. Speaking of labels, I saw this sign, “Warning: Touching wires causes
instant death. $200 fine.” I think I’d go with the fine.

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