Giving God the Finger
Luke 3:14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
I can clearly recall the events that led me to relapse. I am hesitant to write about it, as it is painful to remember. I need to tell the story though, to clearly explain how offensive my purposeful disobedience is to God.
I had been down the road of addiction before and had recovered for a couple years. I knew that I would never be so stupid again (so I thought), so I really did not need to work at recovery. I was cured.
Long before I took the first pills, I willfully turned my back on God in an act of defiance that sparked my relapse. I had previously given up a habit of chewing tobacco as I felt that it was destructive. One day in the Spring of 2014 though, the appetite for tobacco returned. As I had been cured of my addiction, I knew I could indulge this one vice without consequences.
I felt God tugging at me. This is destructive. Do not do this. I knew it was wrong but I wanted it anyway. God asked, So basically you are turning your back on me and giving me the finger? I said, Yes, but you are God, so you must forgive me when I repent. God did forgive, when I finally repented six long, destructive months later.
I do not use crude language about my relapse to be flippant. I use it to illustrate how horrific it is when I purposefully disobey God. The words may offend, but they are necessary to make it painfully clear exactly what I do when I willfully defy God. When He tells me what to do and I choose otherwise, I am telling him to forget himself. I am giving God the finger.
I thought I could do this with no consequences. No one will know. I am not hurting anyone. God will forgive. The bomb I dropped in my mind though, was devastating. The next day, I could not turn to him. I could not look at God, much less pray to him. As I could not pursue God, I was left with self, which I pursued to destruction.
This, I think is the kind of behavior that had John the Baptist so irritated in this passage. He called his listeners snakes as they claimed to follow God, but followed only self. His message was simple. Stop defying God!
So, they asked him how. What shall we do? I imagine John sighed at this. He said they needed to stop their destructive behavior. They knew right and wrong but they chose to do wrong. They chose evil behavior as it was their preference. In doing so, they turned their backs on God and sowed the seeds of their own destruction.
How often do we do this? We know what God wants, but we choose what we want. God says we are to love our neighbor but we are too busy. God says we are to help those in need but we just do not want to. God says to stop our destructive behavior but we like it. The reality is, we defy God all too often. In doing so, we decimate our own faith. We cannot follow God while defying him.
It is only in denying self and obeying God, that He grows his life in me. If I am tired of my own destruction, it is up to me to repent. It is mine to do whatever it takes to deny self and follow God.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.