Practicing the Faith: Pirates and Christians


Read: Colossians 3:12-17

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God (Col. 3:12 & 16, NRSV).

What do pirates and Christians have in common?

This question is prompted by the classic VeggieTales song, “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.” The song features a bunch of vegetables dressed up as pirates, sitting around in their recliners, singing a song about how they don’t do anything remotely pirate-like anymore. They brag that they never swab the poop deck and they never veer to starboard. In fact, they never sail at all. As they pass the potato chips, they break into their swashbuckling theme song:

We are the pirates who don’t do anything

We just stay home and lie around

And if you ask us to do anything

We’ll just tell you, “We don’t do anything!”

While this piece pretends to be just another “silly song with Larry,” it actually poses a fairly important question for Christians. Are Christians still Christians if they don’t do Christian “stuff” anymore?

Colossians 3:1-17 suggests that practicing the faith means more than just putting on a Christian costume. In this passage Paul urges us, along with the believers at Colossae, to cloth ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, peace, and above all, love. “Let the word of God dwell in you richly,” he says. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Notice that the wardrobe Paul recommends is more than skin deep. Qualities like kindness and humility are not the kinds of things that we slap on with our makeup in the morning. They are built up from the inside out over long periods of hard labor, much like muscles in a weight room.

While they may masquerade as nouns, all of these qualities eventually behave as verbs. Patience, for instance, is an action word. A woman I know once told me that she had learned this lesson when going through a divorce, and she had the scars to prove it. Worried, I asked her what she meant. She explained—patiently, of course—“From all the times I had to bit my tongue!”

The pirate song reminds us that merely calling ourselves Christians is not enough. Paul reminds us that doing Christian “stuff” requires a lot of hard work. If we are to “let the word of God dwell in us richly,” more will be involved than what happens on Sunday morning. The labor will involve a lifetime of disciplined Bible study and prayer, of serious social action, and the kind of internal overhaul that only the Holy Spirit can help us undertake.

Of course, if we don’t like it, we can consider the alternative. We could become the Christians who don’t do anything. For those of us who opt for simply wearing the Christian costume and not doing any of the genuine Christian “stuff,” let me suggest the following theme song:

Refrain: We are the Christians who don’t do anything

                          We just stay home and lie around

                          And if you ask us to do anything

                          We’ll just tell you, “We don’t do anything.”

            Verse:   Oh, we never show compassion

                          And we never read the Bible

                          And we never pray the Lord’s Prayer

                          Or recite the hundredth psalm

                          And we never feed the hungry

                          And we never love our neighbor

                          And we can’t distinguish Esther from St. Paul.

Repeat refrain once more with feeling…and pass the potato chips.

Ponder: What impression would your non-Christian friends have of Christianity if your words and actions were the only thing they had to go by?

Pray: Forgive us when we fail to live our faith. Shape our lives to reflect your glory, your compassion, and your grace.


This reflection is a lightly edited version of a devotional originally published in Life after Grace: Daily Reflections on the Bible © 2003 Carol M. Bechtel. All rights reserved.




“Practicing the Faith” Series

This series explores some of the things that Christians can expect once the first blush of belief has worn off. Contrary to the mistaken assumption that once we are “saved” we can sit back and relax, these reflections explore the hard work that awaits the believer on the other side of baptism. However, characters from Genesis to Revelation illustrate that practicing the faith is not just a responsibility but also a reward.

All of these reflections are “encore” performances from a book I wrote early in my career: Life after Grace: Daily Reflections on the Bible © 2003 Carol M. Bechtel. All rights reserved. I have edited them lightly, and chosen them with the current context in mind. I hope they have stood the test of time.