Sunday, May 19, 2013

Late Night Reflections of a Christian

A couple weeks ago, I was engaged in my regular time of studying the Bible, when I ended up with a sort of synthesis that I wrote out and have decided to share. It follows below:

An evil man is snared by his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad. (Proverbs 29:6)
There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Then, we are all ensnared by our own sins.

But you know that [Christ] appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:5-6)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:18)

The analogy that God placed in my head was one of a bird, caught in a trap. A man is walking nearby. The bird sings out in desperation and catches his attention. He comes over and sets the bird free. Now the bird is free and quite glad of it. However, the bird can fly away from the trap, or fall back towards it. What does it choose?

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. (Galations 5:17a)

Being born with sinful desires, we don't naturally know where else to turn. Unlike the bird, we don't naturally know what freedom is. Not only that, but we often find the traps of sin to be attractive and desirable. Our freedom in Christ is useless if we don't have the knowledge of God*; if we are to flee from sin, we must turn to something else, and never having flown, we are given directions on how and where to fly. When we fall, we can get back up. But if we stop trying, we are once again caught.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

The will of the Father is revealed to us in the Bible; it is not conceived of our imagination. So let all who claim to know Christ persevere. We count our blessings, we give thanks in everything, but we must know that it will take perseverance. We must run, run to win the race.

A friend and brother in Christ shared another analogy with me. Even though the parameters which are part of the will of the Father may seem controlling and restrictive to most of the world, they are the only ones that allows us to truly live in freedom. It's like recommending a fish to remain in the water all the time. He's free to jump out of the fish bowl and claim that in that way he will truly be "free." However, we know that as soon as he jumps out he is less than free, flailing in the open air outside the parameters created for him to thrive. The Gospel and concomitant commandments are the water that we live in. And they are good!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

And finally, as overwhelming as this can be to understand let alone live by,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

NOTE: Quotes taken out of context are frequently and easily abused. I do not believe I have changed the meanings of the verses that I have used here; however, I have included citations for all of them and I encourage you to context check them. If you think that I have changed the meaning of the verse, please let me know in the comments below.

*For one analysis of what "knowledge of God" means, see here.