About a month ago, my husband was preaching a series called 20/20. This particular Sunday, his sermon was entitled, “Closely Set Apart.” I wrote down this quote. “Instead of figuring out how close we can get to sin without sinning, we look to how close we can get to God.” It echoed something I had read previously. I had never really thought about sin in that way. It stuck with me because I think it’s a game we all play. A dangerous game. We try to figure out how far we can go without yielding to temptation. Like a toddler, we test the boundaries with God. How close to the line can we go before we get the warning, the tap on the wrist. We regularly play with fire and don’t even realize how vast and hot the flame really is, naively thinking we can handle it. We rationalize and justify our actions. We can feel the heat but we aren’t burnt so we keep tiptoeing closer. Until we are swallowed whole. Or we’re yanked back from the white-hot flickers just in time. Unless we really stop and think about it, we’re rescued only to go right back down the same path, daring ourselves closer to the fire. Beth Moore has talked about this in some of her bible studies and books. How we can choose to turn away ourselves or have God “help us” later on. She advises the first choice rather than the latter. It will be less painful.
Our kids are our great teachers. We think as parents that we’re showing them how to be and do when in reality, it’s the other way around. As our kids enter each phase of childhood and on into adulthood, we usually have to go through our own stuff, figure out the good, the bad and the ugly and then reevaluate what we want them to learn. I find this is especially true as they get older and the world throws more temptations at them. Cyberspace, friendships, bullying, dating, drugs, alcohol. Just to name a few. You can’t run away from it. You can ban it all you want but really, how’s that working for you? It doesn’t. It’s makes it forbidden fruit.
Rhetorically I believe in facing it head on. Honestly, some days, I don’t want to. It often means looking in our own hearts and lives to deal with our own sin before moving on to teach our kids. As parents, I don’t think we much choice about this. The stakes are too high.
As we face our own issues, focusing on the positive stance of getting close to God instead of the negative don’t do list, can make a huge difference. Kelly Minter, in the her Nehemiah study, talks about God bringing us to repentance with His loving kindness. What if we focused on that? Asked Him to bring us to that point? Wouldn’t we be more apt to turn away from the flames earlier if we focused on who God was? That He is for us. That He brings us to repentance through his wooing and his kindness not a lightning bolt? That he loves us with an unfailing love? If we focused on that, wouldn’t we want to turn away from our sin? Wouldn’t our relationship with Him grow deeper and more intimate? Wouldn’t that kind of relationship transform our lives? The kind of transformation that our kids would see? Wouldn’t that be much more of a powerful witness than many lectures?
The more I read and study, I am convinced that it’s not about us and what we can do in our own strength. It’s what we can do in the presence of God. He’s the power source. If we aren’t in His presence, if we don’t know Him in a personal way, then we aren’t accessing the source of power. That source of power is full of grace and love which causes transformation if we are willing to let go of our sin, our agendas, our wills. If we are willing to follow where He leads. It’s gonna hurt. Anything worthwhile is hard work. The outcome is worth it. That power source is also full of majesty and holiness. We’d be wise to remember that. Sin separates us from God. He wants a relationship with us. He will do what is best for us to get us to that point. As Beth points out, I’d rather go willingly, wouldn’t you?
So instead of seeing how close we could get to sin without sinning (which I’m not sure you can do) what if…we tried to see how close we could get to God?