I'm using this freedom language because it's easy to picture. You can readily recall, can't you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God's freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?
As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn't have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you're proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. (Romans 6:18-21 MSG)
Ever since we were blessed with Evan, most of my television viewing has been cartoons, kids' shows, and monster truck competitions. That isn't necessarily all bad and, actually, the monster truck competitions are sort of fun. But, regardless of what we watch, it's nice when we can try to learn something from it.
We were watching Sponge Bob Square Pants this evening. A particularly noteworthy episode in which Spong Bob and his friend Patrick (a star fish) were warned by Mr. Crabbs (their boss) to stay away from "the hooks". It seems that Bikini Bottom was beset by numerous fishers and these weren't fishers of men ... these were fishers of fish. Mr. Crabbs warned them repeatedly about the risks of the hooks and that they must stay away from them and never, ever play on them.
But Patrick's insistence that the hooks were safe and fun tempted Sponge Bob. Patrick had seen marine life play on the hooks before. he'd watched them grab hold, jet quickly upward, and then let go just before they broke the surface, floating gently back down to the bottom of the ocean. It was sort of like Six Flags for aquatic animals.
Sponge Bob eventually gave in and they spent the afternoon together having great fun -- riding up on the hooks and floating back down, much to the dismay of some very frustrated fishermen in their boat on the surface.
Mr. Crabbs eventually found them, corrected them sternly, and warned them again. He told them that they ran the risk of not getting off of the hook in time and ending up in a gift shop as shellaced marine life ... or worse. Sponge Bob and Patrick promised to never ever play on the hooks again.
But the very next day? Well, Patrick confessed that he'd had his fingers crossed when they made the promise. Sponge Bob pointed out that he has no fingers but that didn't make a difference. They were soon back playing on the hooks again.
Mr. Crabbs and Squidward eventually taught Sponge Bob a lesson by hooking him themselves and scaring him into yet another promise to never play on the hooks. How does the episode end? With Patrick yelling from inside a tuna can -- "Hey guys, get me out of here! It's dark in here!"
Wow, a life of recurring sin is indeed dark. We all do it though -- we repeatedly exhibit actions and do things that we know fall short of what Jesus called us to when He gave His life for us. The more we do it, the darker things become.
God offers us His wonderful redeeming grace. He forgives us of our sins. But, the transformed Christian life is called to a journey of discipleship toward freedom. That freedom ... that supernatural life ... is achieved when we can break that cycle of recurring sin.
Patrick thought that playing on the hooks was fun and safe ... until he ended up inside a tuna can.