Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vegas - A Testimony to Total Depravity

I'm sitting here this evening in my hotel room at the Venetian in Las Vegas, where I've been since Sunday night attending a techie conference. And I have to say, Vegas has lived up to my expectations. Or should I say lived down to them. Having never spent any time here before other than driving through, I was not excited about the prospect of a week here. They don't call this place 'Sin City' for nothing. You can feel it in the atmosphere. Oh sure, everything here at places like the Venetian are meant to give the illusion of class and upscale luxury. And to be sure, this hotel (more like a city in itself) is over the top swanky and luxurious, with amazing architecture and nothing spared. And for sure things are upscale in price. A walk through the shops along the 'canal' with the gondolas floating by is like walking down 5th avenue in New York. And the glitz and glamour types of people certainly abound here as well.

But behind it all is a sense of, well, sinfulness and sensuality. Interestingly, all week long I've had to walk through the casino several times a day to get from my room to the conference center. A beautiful place, but filled with people throwing down their money, sucking down drinks served by scantily clad women, looking for at best some kind of thrill or distraction, at worst hoping to win big and being sorely disappointed. And they're always there, even at 7:00AM. And of course there's the other kinds of 'business' that goes on here. One of the guys I work with who is here with me has been approached several times by prostitutes this week. Again, all the glitz and glamour can't cover the reality behind the attraction to this bright spot on the desert. It's sin, plain and simple.

And it's also been interesting seeing how the people that I know and work with that are here are affected by the whole ambiance. Several guys that are married, have families, go to church, have great jobs, all the right stuff. But from the moment we arrived have been focused on hitting the casinos and the bars, sometimes until 4 or 5 AM. A great reminder that all of us have only to be put in the right (or should I say wrong) environment for our depraved nature to more fully express itself.

In fact, that's one thing I've been aware of personally, and have tried to immerse myself in learning stuff at the conference (the whole reason I'm here in the first place) rather than be enticed by the wiles of Vegas. I haven't even left the hotel grounds all week, now that I think about it. Even tonight, I'm here in my room catching up on some work and organizing some of the stuff I've learned this week. While most of the other 6000 people at this conference are in a hall downstairs for a Black Crows concert, complete with free booze. And most of the guys I came with are out on the town for one last night of Vegas before we all fly home in the morning.

So this is my assessment of Las Vegas. Can't say I'm impressed, other than by the testimony that this entire city is to the unbridled and total depravity of man. We can erect gorgeous edifices to attempt to glamorize and add respectability to 'gaming' and all that goes with it. But in the end, they are really only shrines to the depth of man's sin and fallenness. And even in this, God is glorified. His righteousness and holiness shines that much brighter against a backdrop such as Vegas. And the depths of His grace and mercy shown to such a sinful race as us in the person and work of Christ in redemption is seen much more fully and deeply.

For after all, there’s no difference between the people living out their depravity here in Vegas and everywhere else, and me, except for one thing. The sovereign grace of God in Christ.

1 comment:

Paul Wilkinson said...

I was 24 on my first and only visit to Vegas, and while I'm not normally given to making statements like this, I could feel the oppression from the moment we drove into the city.