In January of 2003, the city of Las Vegas launched a controversial new advertising campaign. The risqué ads included the tagline, “What happens here, stays here.” The ads quickly became a cultural phenomenon. They inspired Hollywood blockbusters like What Happens in Vegas and The Hangover.
The basic gist of the campaign is that you can visit Las Vegas, do crazy things you would never otherwise do and then return home like it never happened. Las Vegas would never tell.
If you do it in Las Vegas, somehow it’s okay. Somehow it’s like it didn’t really happen.
The whole campaign is based on an old adage used by businessmen: “What happens on the road, stays on the road.” The same mentality dominates annual parties like Mardi Gras and Spring Break. People, young and old, find themselves far from home. They do things they would never otherwise do because somehow it’s okay at Mardi Gras or Spring Break.
Even Christians fall into such thinking. God often isn’t invited when we go to Las Vegas. He isn’t invited on the road trip to Spring Break.
We just won’t think about him while we’re there. When we get home, we’ll get back to church and life like nothing ever happened. Las Vegas will never tell what we did.
Do you have times and places in your life where God isn’t invited?
- When you are on the road for business, do you watch movies in your hotel room you wouldn’t watch with your wife?
- Do you go with the guys to bars and strip clubs because what happens on the road stays on the road?
- When you go camping for the weekend, do you bring a cooler overflowing with beer and come home with it empty – because that’s what you do when you go camping?
- When you go with your girlfriends to Las Vegas for a bachelorette party or to Cancun for Spring Break, do you hook up with guys for a one night fling, knowing you will never see them again?
We all have times and places in our lives where God is not invited. Whether you invite him or not, though, God is there. God is in Las Vegas. God is in your hotel room. God is watching you on Spring Break.
God knows what you did and it’s not okay. What happens in Vegas saddens and angers him. What you did on Spring Break disappoints him. What you did deserves hell.
And it’s not that God is a party pooper who just doesn’t want us to have any fun. The “fun” offered in Las Vegas and Spring Break and Mardi Gras – the “fun” you have on the road with your friends – can cause lasting damage and shame on your life. Las Vegas has ruined many a marriage. Spring Break has forever scarred young lives. One weekend of that kind of “fun” can cause a lifetime of pain.
Thankfully, our loving and patient God forgives us. On the cross, Jesus suffered the horrific punishment for your drunkenness and sexual sins. He promises full and free forgiveness for all your foolish “fun”. All of the bad things you’ve done were forever nailed to the cross.
Never forget that wherever you go, God is there – even in Las Vegas. So don’t go anywhere without inviting him.
If you do, though – if you mess up and foolishly fall into the snare of drunkenness and sexual sins – take it to your Savior in prayer. Ask him to forgive you. Trust that what happened in Vegas now stays forever at the cross.