8/03/2007

How Far Is Too Far...

I had a conversation with a student of mine yesterday that, if you're in ministry or are a human being, you've undoubtedly been on one side of before. "How far is too far?" You know what I'm talking about... So, I thought I'd share some of what I told him here...

·"How far is too far?" is the wrong question. Someone (and I've searched fruitlessly for who for the past 15 minutes) once said that if you ask the wrong question you'll always arrive at the wrong answer.

Asking "How far is too far?" implies that there is a definite point in which all preceding behaviors are "right" and all succeeding behaviors are "wrong". If this were the case then there would exist a certain physical action which would, in effect, be a "line" that, once crossed, one would enter into sin. So then, the answer that this question is really seeking is "What physical action is the "doorway" into sin and which actions, leading up to it, am I allowed to do?"

But if we were to really discover the answer to this question we would still be left wanting. Why? Because our lives aren't supposed to be about how much we can get away with up until the point that we sin. Our lives are supposed to be about honoring God. By living in such a way that says, "I don't want to sin, but I want to do as much as I can up until that point", our implied goal isn't, primarily, a God honoring life. It's more like a self pleasing life that seeks honoring God as an afterthought.

What we really ought to be asking is "How can I honor God?" Is God honored when we set out to find "the line" of sin just so that we can see how close we can creep up to it without "accidentally" falling over? Starting the search looking for a behavior will always come up short. I think that God would rather us start our search looking for Him. "God, how can I honor you with my body?" That seems like a good place to start...


·God forgives us of our past. If He can move on from it, with His help, so can we. As he looked at me from across the table, my student said to me,
"But what if I've already done this? Am I going to go to Hell?"

Alexander Pope once wrote, "To err is human, to forgive devine." This simple statement sums up our nature, as well as God's, so well. It's almost as if Pope had been reading Romans 3:22-24... If we've done something that has dishonored God, we're extremely blessed to have the shadow of His arm cast over us. The shadow is there because He's waiting for us to grab hold of His hand so that He can help us up, and teach us to walk again.

We have to accept His forgiveness, turn away from our sin, and do our best to live our life in such a way that honors God. And the good news is, that that's what He wants for us too...

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