Back in the day when me and Thomas were kids and our bike tires weren’t flat from puncture-weeds, we didn’t fret too much about rules.
There were adults around who kept an eye on us and others like us; and they were pretty fair at letting us know when we bumped against one of the boundaries. We figured that’s what parents were for.
Keep us away from the guardrails.
Oh, sure, we whimpered and groused about it. Page 37 in the Kid’s Super Cool Handbook. “God? If you really loved us, you’d make these parental units and all their dumb rules disappear. Dubble Bubble, Neccos and Shasta for everyone! Cartoons, Batman and The Rifleman! Sea Hunt, Sky King and anything with John Wayne! And football! Kids reign! We are in control! Yay-y-y-Y-Y-Y, US!”
There were even days we thought we’d caught The Creator during a ‘senior’ moment, slipped one past Him, and we were on our own. A loaf or two of bread we managed to snatch from one of our houses, peanut butter, and Kool-Aid in our canteens. Conquest! The world was our oyster!
Okay, clam. We had clams in the Columbia River. Not oysters. We didn’t even like oysters. Digression is not only fun; it helps prepare later points as long as it doesn’t get out of hand and—-
Had God for a few hours actually granted our childish demands and made all our parents, along with their stultifying rules disappear in one big PAH-ZOINK?
“Hey. Um… what’s for dinner?”
“Well, I got part of a roll of Neccos and a smutched Twinkie.”
“Well, Mom always took care of dinner, and when it was ready, Dad always whistled, and so . . .”
I remember a few times riding my bike like crazy to get home before real dusk – you know, pushing the grace boundary – and seeing the lights on. There was something enduring and comfortable about that. Even in the midst of my complaining I expected ‘it’ – the system of can’s and can’ts – to be there. In the act of screaming (in my mind, anyway) my defiance at them, I wanted the boundaries to still be there.
It was a real different feeling in my gut getting home–and finding the house dark and silent. My, ah, my boundaries weren’t there. Ever notice the grating difference between the exhilaration of demanding your own way and embarrassing consequences of actually getting it? Daddy and Mother showed up shortly thereafter, apologetic that they’d been held up and couldn’t get home in time.
I’d like to tell you when they came home I was standing, arms crossed, eyebrow cocked, expecting some lame adult excuse. I’d like to tell you they groveled before my youth and stunning intelligence, vowing abject penitence. I’d really like to tell you that.
They got there to a weeping son. I was sure I’d been abandoned, and was I one very grateful guy that they’d paid no attention to my wanting them and their stupid rules gone?
Suddenly the silliness of my wanting the rulemakers and enforcers in my life to disappear became apparent. Suddenly it came home to me about the same time I came home: wanting all the cloying, disagreeable rules to go away simply because I didn’t like ’em and they cramped my style was to buy a first-class ticket on a trainwreck.
It’s amazing how quickly smug arrogance can dissipate like water dropped on a hot grill lid in the face of bald truth.
Suddenly it came home to me about the same time I came home: wanting all the cloying, disagreeable rules to go away simply because I didn’t like ’em and they cramped my style was to buy a first-class ticket on a trainwreck.
My dad and mom were there for me. The lights were always on. There were clean clothes to put on after washing up in a clean bathroom with lots of warm water, plenty of merthiolate and Band-Aids for the various boo-boos of the day, the house was always comfortable and always there was ample food on the table. And, yes, they saw that I had some money to spend on Dubble Bubble, Neccos and Twinkies.
In exchange for their care, they expected obedience and cooperation from me. Their rules may not always have set well, but they were always clear and didn’t shift depending on which friend I had with me.
My parents, while being loving and understanding, never practiced situation ethics. The rules didn’t waver or morph depending on who else was in the house. They did their best to be fair in applying those rules, but I had no excuse for not knowing what they were.
God’s never practiced situation ethics, either. He is the Ultimate in love and understanding. Yet the term and concept of ‘sin’ is not ambiguous, nor are God’s boundaries obscure.
As a man thoughtfully and practically living my life according to The Bible’s direction, I don’t quibble over either the term or the concept. It was my sin that caused the need for Christ to become my salvation. It wasn’t my misunderstandings, my mistakes or my momentary lapses in judgment.
I see nothing noble nor happy in it. Human wreckage in terms of bodies, lives, families, relationships, reputations and souls is repugnant to me.
Sin is one of those terms guaranteed to draw white-hot invective. I find it odd that the more even my approach, the more strident and sharpened are the responses when I say I do not argue with those who wish to debate God.
Not only do I see that as a fool’s errand, there never has been to me any virtue or value in arguing about anything. I can listen to, care for and love a person without feeling the necessity to agree with their life choices. We all are the sum of our own choices; we all stand or fall according to the consequences of those choices.
To stand red-faced, yelling one’s personal opinion only invites the same in return. If that’s your thing, have at it. Just don’t expect me to engage in it. I’m not the One with whom you have the issue. It’s not my word, but His.
I believe in Sin’s power to blind, deceive and corrupt. It did all those things within me as long as I allowed it. I knew better. I was raised to know better. But all that knowledge amounted to dryer lint until I decided I was miserable living as I was and chose to accept the Gospel message of salvation through Jesus, the Christ.
Jesus, God’s Son, died to get between me and the consequences of my willful choices to live apart from Him. That’s what sin is: willfully deciding to ignore what I know to be God’s law. I know I’ve occasionally made a hash of trying to serve Him, being His ears, voice, hands, arms and representative in my world. Yet I’ve never been sorry I accepted Him as my personal Lord and Savior.
It is not my style to pound anyone with Christ’s teaching. Neither do I ever intend to use ‘love’ as a means of softening the edges of God’s claim on His created order so it is nicer and less onerous. Love – ultimately of God to start with, right? – is of far greater value than to allow it’s abuse like that.
The Cross wasn’t soft. “It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people” (Hebrews 10:14).
When I think of Spirit Warriors, I see in my mind men and women vets who’ve repeatedly stared down a Hellish adversary while prayerfully defending their kids and holding them Heavenward. I see ladies who look harmless and are smirkingly derided even by some in the Church, but before whose determined intercession Hell cowers. I see gentlemen who wouldn’t recognize current style if it tripped ’em, but whose eyes take on the steely glint of combat veterans when Hell invades the lives of those they love and respect.
I see my mom and dad. They had no problem believing in sin and it’s effects. Neither do I.
As Mark Twain once said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me.”
© D. Dean Boone, June 2015