Check Your Vertical, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, September 2, 2017 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

In a world with so much information and access to virtually every opinion instantly, is it possible to live a God centered life? Why should we even try?

When I was a teenager, I loved boogie boarding. One time I went out at high tide, and I made a poor choice to take a choppy double headed wave. The first crest of the front of the wave collapsed and dropped me below the curl, and the second crest collapsed on top of me. I got rolled, and rolled. I had put fins on that board, and when the wave collapsed the board went nose first, and I got pulled backward down the bottom of the board. The left fin sliced a rather nice “S" curve into my left peck. I was not a strong swimmer at the time, but I generally stayed close enough to shore that I could push off the bottom and get air if necessary. I scrambled toward the surface, but instead of air I grabbed a handful of sand. I quickly got my feet down and pushed off to break the surface and regain my bearings. Although I would end up with a pretty cool bloody “S” on my chest, a “shark” story that I tried to pawn off on the girls on the beach (unsuccessfully), I was very clearly aware that I was no superman. The horizontal tumble by the wave completely destroyed my ability to determine my vertical and get back to air.

I am reminded of that experience when I see the churning of our culture today. There is a lot going on in our culture right now - a lot of opinions about who is right, who is wrong, etc. But our biggest problem is not the current crisis. Our biggest problem is that we are so informed by horizontal perspectives that we may not even be aware of how that skews our perception of who God is.

Read Matthew 15:1-11 to look at another group so focused on the horizontal perspectives that they totally miss what is important to God. More specifically, look at why they miss it.

Pharisees were a class of leaders that came about while Israel had been in Babylon. They were committed to “getting it right.” Most parables in their time ended with “along came a Pharisee…” to demonstrate the best example. They were so concerned about staying inside the boundaries that they created thousands of laws for every aspect of life. Laws were layers, meant to safeguard you from ever breaking an actual command of God.

For example, if God said, “Don’t do work on the day of rest (Sabbath),” the Pharisees would try and make rules for every conceivable scenario where someone might intentionally or unintentionally break God's command. This lead to laws that made it okay to pick up your child on the Sabbath, but if your child was holding a piece of produce or anything associated with work, then you were breaking the Sabbath by doing work. Another law said it was okay to spit on a rock on the Sabbath, but if you spit on the dirt, that was ‘tilling the soil' and breaks the law.

Now whether these ridiculous rules came about because people kept trying to find technicalities to get around them, or whether the Pharisees hyperactively conceived of any technical breach of rest, we are not sure – maybe a bit of both. The simple fact remains that so many layers of laws were created to keep from even accidentally breaking God's commands, that eventually it became hard to KEEP God's commands. The level of fear and unwise caution they lived under caused them to focus on what NOT to do, so much that they lost sight of what they SHOULD do.

Remember: FEAR and unwise CAUTION can cause us to set BOUNDARIES that lead us OFF COURSE.

Take a few moments and reflect on where your fear or unexamined caution have caused you to say, “Never again” or “I won’t.” Be willing to search God's Word, and see if there are commands or promises of His that challenge your vow. If so, will you let Him teach you how to live His way, instead of just avoiding consequences your own way?

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