Wednesday, May 4, 2011

smokers and Jesus Jukes

photo: J. Annie Wang

I often sit in my apartment and think of ways to retaliate against smokers.

My wife and I live in one of the most temperate and beautiful parts of the United States: Southern California.  Our average temperatures range from 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and we receive just over a foot of rain each year.  Friends and relatives in Nebraska often break one of the ten commandments when considering the disparity between our climate and theirs.

This idyllic climate allows me the joy of being incredibly frugal on our utility bills.  We ran our heater twice all winter, and we can usually open our windows in the summer to avoid using the air conditioner too much.

Unfortunately, when we have our windows open, one of the vexations of apartment living becomes apparent: smokers.

Because I am a God-fearing man (ignoring the fact that I sit and plot revenge on smokers), I believe my retaliation should be proportional and not physically harmful.  Rather it should be annoying and inconvenient.

My first and only idea was to find a way to fart in a jar, seal it, and then place it on a smoking neighbor's window sill whenever they open their windows.  I can imagine the stench lines wafting into their home a la aroma lines from pies in cartoons that turn animals into pastry-seeking zombies.

I fully intended to end this post asking for other tongue-in-cheek suggestions about possible forms of redress from cancer-stick huffing tenants.  But then I realized that would make me a prime candidate for a Jesus Juke*.

If you're unfamiliar with Jon Acuff's concept called "The Jesus Juke," let me explain by example.  In this case, a Jesus Juker would respond to a request for smoker-castigation techniques with something like the following: "Raj, I expected more of you.  You should love your smoking neighbors like Jesus does and show them his love because you don't want them to be eternally smoking . . . in hell."

Jesus Juking makes me want to cuss.  It always assumes the worst about the other person and the best about yourself, and it always seeks to publicly and pharisaically display this disparity in discipline.

Instead of jumping into the rich experience full of humor, nuance, and subtext that is human interaction, Jesus Juking makes people into targets and stepping stools on the way to [ironic] feelings of self-righteousness.

Like I don't know that my neighbors need loved and that loving them might one day inspire them to break their filthy habit. Like I desire for them to burn in hell and am so vindictive about having to Febreze my apartment free from their carcinogenic stench that I would willingly withhold the gospel from them, knowing full well that it is the power of salvation.

The truth is, it's exhausting enough to live up to our own consciences, let alone to actual God-honoring correction.  None of us really needs hackneyed, legalistic pontification aimed at belittling us.  Jesus never corrected people this way.  You shouldn't either.

The real issue comes down to: in a dark world, anybody got a light?

*Acuff does a marvelous job explaining characteristics of Jesus Juking, so please read his post if you want to learn more about it.


  1. The perfect blend of sarcasm and truth. What a great way to start the day! I have never heard of Jesus Juking but am glad to have a name for such an obnoxious, self up-puffing behavior. That's right - "up-puffing".
    Some thoughts I had were playing a Billy Mays info-mercial at inordinate volumes or perhaps Christmas music all year. You could leave your tv on when you leave on the channel that shows legislatures could hide pine scented air fresheners near their window...make a clothes line that nears the top of their window but hang smelly clothes instead of clean ones. Make sure they're not nice though because they might pick up the smelliness of the smoke...

  2. I don't know...

    I kind of feel like the phrase "Jesus Juke" is a funny way of making it acceptable to say, "Hey, don't tell me when I'm wrong, I don't want to hear it." Jon Acuff is very clever, and I laughed my way through 'Stuff Christians Like.' But there's got to be room for us to tell each other, "Don't do _____. It's not good for you."

    2 Timothy 4:2 tells us to correct and rebuke, patiently and with careful instruction. Maybe the problem with the Jesus Juke is that it's a knee-jerk reaction, it's not thought out, and it's delivered like a slap in the face that communicates an "up-puffing" attitude. That definitely is a problem.

    You may consider this comment as a Jesus Juke itself. That's your call, I guess. The problem I've got with calling Jesus Jukes is that conversation is shut down. Did you read the comments on the SCL post? Any time anyone tries to say something to the contrary of the post, everyone jumps on the person with, "Jesus Juke!" That doesn't seem very Christ-like, either.

    Sorry to hear about your neighbors. We went through the same thing in our apartment. I seem to recall slamming windows loudly, hoping they'd get the point. Again, not very Christ-like.

  3. Bret, I totally agree that the Bible calls us to correct and rebuke. I also agree that the problem with Jesus Jukes is the way that they're presented.

    The thing that I've noticed (and mentioned above) is that nearly every Jesus Juke is abrupt and public, as opposed to gentle and private. They are less of a loving call to repentance and more of a holier-than-thou reminder of how much that person thinks about Jesus compared to you.

    I wouldn't call your comment a Jesus Juke. Honest discussion never is. If you were to express your comment in Jesus Juke form, it would've been, "Did Jesus Jukes make Jesus want to cuss? Seems like he was okay with them."

    There is a vast difference between correction, discussion, and Jesus Jukes.

    Thanks for reading, man.

  4. Good thoughts.

    And good to read your post! Thanks for taking the time to write.

  5. Haha. No specific targets were aimed at in the writing of this blog post.

  6. I think the problem with the Jesus Juke is that it completely disregards the concept of humor. What does humor have to do with Christianity you say? Well, besides the fact that you can see God's sense of humor throughout your own life and history and the Bible (I'm not going to look up verses, just trust me, its there and its funny), God created us with a sense of humor. I believe firmly that the "image of God" we were created in involves not a physical image but rather our souls and reason and traits like the ability to love and laugh. If we were not made to have a sense of humor, I believe God would have not given us the ability to laugh.

    That being said, had someone Jesus juked my brother for his humorous comment about farting in a jar, I may have felt the need to take a hot, steaming deuce on their front step. Not very Jesus like you say? Well I was just trying to let that person know that I didn't think the judgemental attitude they had about my brothers' smokers solution which led to their Jesus Juke was not the spirit of humility that God calls them to as Christians. I may not have done it in the right way . . . but then again, the Jesus Juker doesn't do it the right way either right?

    The reason I can confidently say that the intent of Jesus Juking is as well-meaning as me pooping on someone's doorstep is because if you ever have had to rebuke someone in the love of Jesus, you almost always dread doing it. There is no joy in calling to correction the mistakes of a brother or sister in Christ, and it is not done in a public forum because all you want from that situation is for your brother or sister to grow closer with God, you have no interest in their humiliation. Jesus Juking is none of those things, it is an attempt to publicly shame those who we feel are not living up to the standard of what we think they should be, not of what God thinks they should be.

    Jesus Jukers will deny my statement until the end, claiming they were trying to do the right thing. When they do that, just remember, I successfully defended the idea of me crapping on someones doorstep with the simple statement of it was well intentioned just poorly executed. But if this were really true, wouldn't they stop executing their good intentions in the form of a Jesus Juke? So next time you feel like Jesus Juking someone, think of it as taking a verbal dump on that person's metaphorical door step, and see if you still think its a good idea (Hint: its not). Sorry Raj, didn't meant to hijack the blog. Love you brother.

  7. Haha. Wow.

    I expected to totally disagree with you and then found myself not only in agreement but wishing I would have thought of writing that in the first place.

    Way to tag in, Ravi. Thanks.

    P.S. Ravi also wins the award for being the first person to use the phrase "hot, steaming deuce" on this blog. Welcome to, everyone. :)

  8. And you noticed on Tom's FB that Jesus Jukers are synonymous with Ninja Poopers. It all is connected... :)

  9. if they had a major in college for using the term "hot, steaming deuce" in a theological discussion, i would have a doctorate

  10. Well, there's always hope for an honorary doctorate.

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