[re-truh greyd] (ret·ro·grad·ed, ret·ro·grad·ing.)
[re-truh greyd] (ret·ro·grad·ed, ret·ro·grad·ing.)
“We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”
Isaiah 64:6, NLT
There are bad things that happen to us— the ugly, awful and rigorous things, that only God himself can explain. We read theology and we read our Bibles, we listen dutifully to preachers but we still approach the throne of Jesus more mystified than anything else.
We are seem to be playing ‘ping-pong’ with the most challenging issues. We come to Him, because there is no one left who can answer things that have perplexed everyone else. Why do we suffer? Why does evil exist? Why do people who live in blatant sin, succeed? Why am I sick all the time?
If God is really God, why doesn’t he just give us an explanation about these questions? Our title talks about being “spellbound.” Are we really that inured, or attached with a sinister evil? To be spellbound means we are being confused, drugged or hypnotised by something quite awful. A cobra rises up, and opens its “hood.” Its victim is entranced by what it sees in front-of-it. He soon becomes supper.
Being held captive is a ordinary occurance for human beings. Captivity brings us imprisonment. Usually in a dark, dirty and unpleasant place. But yet, it intrigues us so much, and the “light” is such a boring and dull thing. We feel great as we trade the truth for lies. But what a deal we reason; “step right up, and exchange it for the lie!”
Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV
From this new and fresh influence we come under the control and will of ‘the dark side’. (And this is not merely “Star Wars‘ mythos. It is very much real.) We gradually give ourselves over, in a reasonably predictable pattern. We think we are pretty much unique in this, but the truth is that we are pretty much ordinary. Sin never enhances us. Don’t believe the lie.
”And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
There comes a point when there is enough momentum and weight, that it creates an avalanche. At this point things have gotten desperately grim. From a human standpoint, there will be no way to avert the inevitable. Sin will roll over you, blasting into your life, and worst of all into the hearts of your family. In a stark way— things get very dark, very fast.
But we are so entranced by what it wants to give us. It looks so good…one could call it “self-actualizing.” (Maybe even “liberating!”) But in one of the many purposes of the Old Testament, is to clarify what happens in people’s hearts when we step down and let the sin and confusion take over. You could say, that there will be pleasure for a brief season, but it will always have a very savagely grim and a black conclusion. ”For the wages of sin is death.”
“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
Luke 6:31, ESV — The Golden Rule
Luke 6:31-32, MSG
Sometimes it seems, I hit the switch, and shut it all down. Essentially, I get wrapped up with one of my favorite sins and soon I turn off my faith, unplugging myself from the wall. I have a desire to escape from what I see as restrictions that I believe faith brings me. I want to have fun–I don’t want to pray, or read the Bible.
Actually I can do this subtly. I just raise the volume of my sinful desires, and try to drown out that still small voice. I can maintain a holy life for my Christian friends, while I enjoy the pleasures of my favorite sins. Sins or holiness, I want to go for both– but the reality is I just get one.
There is still a voice that is speaking profoundly. “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Our particular concepts of Christianity so rarely include this–“the golden rule.” In my own mind, I diminish this as a little bit antiquated. I will rarely feel its pinch or pull. It is never a topic of serious thought or meditation. It seems that it has become what I call–“an optional truth.” It is very much real, but it is not connected to me in my daily walk.
Treating others, the very way you want to be treated—do this! Love other people outrageously and deeply; because you like it when they do this to you. There is reciprocal action here, a sort of spiritual circle of kindness. Our vernacular says, “What goes around, comes around.” And it certainly has a ring of truth in it.
All too often we have a version of Christianity that has had its teeth pulled. We have tamed it, and brought the sharp teeth of the faith under our personal decision-making process. The wildness of a true faith is domesticated and ‘house-broken.’ And we start the rush to unplug things. The golden rule gets detached right away.
As I struggle as a mentally ill Christian, it is mandatory that the truth be lifted up in my life. I can become quite disturbed and manipulated by life’s dealings. My issues of paranoia and delusion cripple me, or they could become the step-stool for those wonderous things on the shelf of grace.
Dear ones, use your illness to reach for the best, live this and change your world.