This was the aha moment for him, "But, I wasn't sure why until I heard Teresa (the house mom) praying for me. I could feel and sense the love she had for me in her prayer and I realized that those rules and that structure were there because of love."
These words were shared by a young man who had gone from having a criminal record and involved in the drug scene to now being accepted into college, holding down a part time job, and involved in a life of service for Jesus. We were on a bus coming back from an orphanage in Peru where he had lovingly served children all week. He was sharing his testimony with an older man on the bus. His words showed a great deal of insight for someone so young. He "got" what most today can't understand. "I've just got to go find myself." "That may be your truth, but I'm not quite sure if that is right for me." "You can say that. Everyone has to figure out what's best for them by looking inside themselves and determining what's best for them."
These words are more characteristic of our age than the insight of the young man on the bus. They've been said so frequently that they've become accepted as absolute truth in a time that doesn't believe in absolute truth. They are values that largely go unchallenged today, even among folks claiming allegiance to Jesus. The assumption underneath them is that we can best find what we most need to guide our lives by looking inside ourselves and figuring it out for ourselves.
Yet while this kind of thinking can be championed on A&E and similar media channels, the original A&E — Adam and Eve — reminds us that this approach to life leads us back to the kind of chaos the young man on the bus had learned to escape. This is also the chaos that God replaced with beauty and wonder when he created the universe (Genesis 1:2). What had been nothing but formless, empty, and darkness became "very good" (Genesis 1:31) and filled with relationship that was open and unashamed (Genesis 2:25).
Yet when A&E chose their own way over God's way, chaos returns with a vengeance:
- They hide from God (Genesis 3:8-10).
- They blame each other and God's creatures (Genesis 3:12-13).
- The world becomes a place cursed and now subject to death (Genesis 3:14-24).
- Jealousy and murder replace the relationship that humans once shared with each other and God (Genesis 4:1-10).
- Things become so corrupt, that God is deeply grieved by his rebellious human children that he wipes nearly all of them out and starts over with a few good people (Genesis 6:5-8).
- Yet even the best of the best sink back into rebellion (Genesis 9:20-25) and arrogant disregard for the exalted place of God (Genesis 11:1-9).
Bottom line, when we choose our own way and ignore what is given us by the grace and goodness of God, we invite chaos back into our lives. You've seen it. I've seen it, and God's heart breaks because of it.
Yet, we can make the same discovery the young man on the bus made: God gave us structure, boundaries, and moral truth because he loves — not to deprive us, but give us life. He wants us to experience as much beauty, goodness, and love as we possibly can in a fallen and broken world.
So in those moments when we don't understand why God would ask us to do something to please him or abstain from something that displeases him, let's remember why he asks it of us. It's because he loves us and wants us to avoid the pain, disaster, and chaos that accompanies our own self-willed choices. God wants us to experience life, goodness, love, and delight. He wants us to avoid pain, corruption, and death. And to prove it, God stretched out his arms and said, "I love you this much!"
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NIV).
I invite you to read along with a number of other churches and Heartlight friends as we journey through the Bible in 31 weeks in a plan called "The Story." You can get a special Bible designed for this journey — learn more about it and other resources here: http://hlt.me/NNrkuw — or you can read the readings with the links built in to take you to the passages — check out here: http://hlt.me/S8QxUy. Either way, there is so much more material to explore and discover with many resources to help you.