Last night, I was watching a conversation unfold on social media about the rigid lines we must set to keep ourselves from falling into “tempting” things like relationships with the opposite sex and a host of other situations that may cause us to become emotional, incapacitated, and powerless.
These conversations are common among beleivers and the self-flagellation that many Christians put themselves through is worn like a badge of honor. We tweet, Instagram, and Facebook post just how much we do to remain holy and righteous before God — creating every boundary we can to separate ourselves from the person we use to be and the struggles that we used to have.
What I find is that many times, our need to create such rigid lines are not some divine effort to please God but in fact an effort to placate the guilt of a shady and shifty past. We fill our relationship with God full of “stuff” to try to make up for who we used to be. It may even be a subconscious thing, but I think we do it often.
We keep rules, regulations, and a laundry lists of don’ts to show God “Look! I’m changed! Don’t you remember how much of a mess I used to be?” We are, in fact, so afraid of making a mistake that we try to artificially cultivate the perfect situations in our lives so we always “pass the test.”
We sometimes treat our relationship with God like we live in a science lab. We try to control the variables. We adjust the formulas to ensure no explosions or weird chemical reactions occur. We go, step by step, through the “scientific method” to make sure that we are and remain perfect for the great “Scientist in the Sky” so He doesn’t remember the times in which our concoction of a life blew the place up like a Molotov cocktail through an open window.
We think we can create the perfect conditions to not fall into temptation or to not sin. Life isn’t a science lab where you can create ideal situations so you’re not tempted. We aren’t little Despicable Me minions running around trying to control everything so we “pass the test.” When we do this, we quench the Holy Spirit’s ability to do what the spirit is supposed to do: help us. We don’t give ourselves enough credit to let our walk with God stand on its own — and we give too much credit to this flesh that we so-claim we have dominion over.
Now, you don’t run towards situations that you know may be a sore spot for you, right? I mean, you don’t invite the drug addict to the drug dealer’s house for dinner, you know?
But here’s my final point: there’s no amount of work you can do to make God love you more than He already does; there’s nothing you can do to make up for who you used to be. A good friend of mine once said, “We will be placed in all types of unideal situations despite our perfect planning. So let’s be honest that we need the Holy Spirit and stop trying to predict and control everything. That’s bondage.”
You can be free in Christ and trust your relationship with Him to guide you in the right way — and this process starts with a relationship with Jesus. One in which there is consistent communication and an open heart to hear what’s being said to us — about anything in our lives. Trust Him. Trust yourself! Hang up the lab coat, too. They’re itchy. 🙂
On Bunsen burner Chase,
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