Have you ever heard the college version of the hymn “Love Lifted Me?” It goes something like this, “I was sinking deep in sin — wheeeeee!”
How did we get to the place where we allowed ourselves to believe that doing wrong was fun and to choose to follow Christ or consistently honor God would require “giving up” all the fun stuff? Surely you have heard someone say, “Let me finish sowing my wild oats, and then I will settle down and become a Christian.” Wild oats? Settle down?
Unless the definition has changed recently, sowing wild oats means putting myself at risk for an incurable disease that I will eventually pass on to the one I marry. Or, it could mean putting myself at risk for an incurable disease that kills me. The alternative meaning of the phrase is that I want to finish “enjoying” my life before I settle down to become a Christ follower.
Sin is a cheap substitute for the real thing. It is a replica, a knock—off, a counterfeit. It is always satisfying a legitimate need in an illegitimate way. That is what makes it so appealing. It really does meet a need we have. It just meets the need with a high cost on the back end.
I have heard sin defined as ultimately a choice to believe that a loving God does not really have our best interests at heart. That the “rules” He created are arbitrary laws designed to create disciplined lives and prove we are worthy of belonging to Him.
What if God is really loving? And what if the guidelines He created and revealed to us are designed to benefit us, not hamstring us?
Remember being a kid or having kids? Don’t kids ask their parents, “Why,” in the early stages of their growing up? And, even when the directive is explained, most kids still don’t like it and don’t want to do it. Do our children have to like it for it to be right for them?
There are some good reasons for knowing and doing the right thing. Jesus, declaring himself to be a representative of God, said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Therefore, one of our motives for obedience is that it gives us an opportunity to give love back to God. Ever heard, “What do you get a guy that has everything?” Interesting question. He says that following His guidelines is an act of love that He values.
Following through with His directives is also an act of trust. Remember Adam and Eve? The original sin was not disobedience. It was not trusting that God had their best interests at heart. It was believing that God was holding out on them — “The serpent told the Woman, ‘You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.’” (Genesis 3:4-5)
What if we decided that sin was dumb, and obedience to the guidelines of a loving God was smart? Obedience then becomes an act of intelligence. Most of the world’s cultures use the same principles you find in Scripture for their law codes.
Love, trust and intelligence.