My friends and I used to crouch beside my dad’s giant Wharfedale speakers, ears poised to catch every nuance of the music. Compared to our transistor radios, those speakers were like being on stage. That’s why I remember hearing Johnny Cash perform San Quentin live, right there at the prison. The song was a diatribe, and the prisoners cheered.
Then came an awkward moment. Johnny needed a drink of water, and there was no one to ask but the guards. Sheepishly, he asks if one of them would bring him a drink, “If the guards are still talking to me . . .”
We can all identify with this. “You can’t tame a tongue — it’s never been done,” the Bible tells us. That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. It means there’s a better solution. It’s called love. Moses reveals it at beginning of the Bible, and Jesus speaks of it regularly. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Following Jesus isn’t really about doctrine or church attendance. It’s about loving family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and enemies. Even the guards.