Have you ever looked at the Bible as some outdated, rule filled, life sucking book of do’s and don’ts that was going to make your life miserable trying to live up to a standard that you knew you never had nor ever could hit?
Having only ever viewed the Bible as a set of rules and limitations on life, and as an unchurched first reader in 2007 you can bet I was searching for anything that would provide me a loophole or two. You know, a way to go about my life as though nothing had really changed. Now one might think during those lonely hours in F5 of the cold, steel jail cell, I might have been inclined to want everything to change in my life. But the honest truth is there were only some parts of my life I was willing to exchange with God for the promise of eternal life. In some ways I felt determined to remain in one spot, one life with the addition of God somehow.
Pro 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” And while I’m not thrilled with being compared to a dog returning to his vomit, the picture in my mind was jolting enough to reconsider my train of thought.
I understood my life hadn’t been working and it hadn’t been working for a long time. In fact, it hadn’t been working for about as long as I could remember! So again, you would think I would be ready to have anyone take over the macro and micro management of my life; in other words, everything from the biggest plans to the tiniest details. But I wasn’t.
Hence my search for loopholes. After all, that Proverb was but one line in that whole book, right? I wanted to find loopholes. I wanted to find a few legal disclaimers that said I could hold onto those parts of my life I chose and give to God what I wanted!
Frankly, I didn’t want to think about dating without the prospect of physical intimacy. That seemed archaic! And I didn’t want to think I could never have another drink again, that wasn’t my problem! I was a thief, not an alcoholic! And I couldn’t imagine being satisfied with a life of poverty, after all, I wanted what the guy next door had and more! And truthfully, I didn’t really want to have to work as hard as he worked in order to have it (but we’ll pretend I wasn’t that disillusioned.) I didn’t want to have to give away my money to some church because let’s just say I did earn it, wasn’t it mine? I mean, I DID earn it? And let’s not get on the “sin” thing, or was I already? No, no, no; I mean the big sins…….okay, so the theft thing, that’s in the big ten but seriously. Okay I guess the wanting my neighbors things, that coveting thing. Got it but…well, let’s not look too close at that list after all.
So I read and I read and I read. I read each and every verse. I tried to understand the stories, then the Proverbs and listened to the sweetly flowing Psalms and tried to decipher the parables. I tried to find somewhere that I could keep my life but add God. I mean, I was adding GOD! Right?
Luk 9:23 Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
Luk 9:24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
Luk 9:25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?
Well great, just great, I thought. In order to have eternal life, I was told that I must “confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead and I will be saved” but now, the very Jesus this passage spoke of that carved out my salvation was also the Jesus that told me I had to give up everything to follow Him? My loopholes were gone in a flash and I was at once convinced and convicted that the Christian life was more than just “adding God” to my life or my repertoire of words or God-speak. I was really being asked to do some very specific things that I might have God in my life!!! And loopholes didn’t exist!
Let’s face it. When we’re sitting behind bars, awaiting trial or a parole answer or a commuting of our sentences or a reduction in our probation; we’re counting on loopholes and a fine twist by a clever advocate! Now Jesus was my advocate directly to God and I had to count on Him to find loopholes for me!
In life, we’re always counting on loopholes.