My Motorcycle Days
And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: “The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.” Revelation 2:18
During my medical school years, I went through a motorcycle phase, buying my first bike for $350 on a garage sale. I drove that piece of junk everywhere, wearing no helmet of course – that wasn’t cool. I was 22 and indestructible. Injury just never occurred to me. Then, with my second motorcycle, I eventually found a healthy fear. One spring day, as I was driving along a winding mountain road, leaning into a curve, I suddenly hit a spot where the pavement had washed out. The gravel just gave way as my motorcycle slid off the road . . . into the only nice flat area of grass in miles.
I didn’t even say Ouch. My bike had one little ding on it, but I didn’t have a scratch. I was fine – or at least my body was. It didn’t register as fear at the time, but a switch flipped in my brain that day. The fall just happened so fast. There was nothing I’d done wrong and there was nothing I could have done to avoid it – except not be on a motorcycle. You motorcycle enthusiasts will be sad, but I sold my motorcycle a short time later and I haven’t ridden since. Looking back 25 years, I don’t regret my choice. Motorcycles are a lot of fun, but they deserve a healthy fear, and I was a fool so be so flippant about them.
I’ve exercised a similar flippancy in my faith. When I read about the Jesus of the New Testament, I find him to be loving, kind, and gracious. I know I’ve been forgiven for all time and so, over the years, I’ve often viewed my sins as no big deal. God will forgive me. Today’s passage though, reminds me that though Jesus is love, he is also truth and discipline. In the passage – Jesus’ letter to the church in Thyratira – he had eyes like fire and spoke of chastening those who were flippant about their sexual sin.
Yes, God loves us and yes, he forgives us, but he’s still in charge and he made the world in such a way that when we break his rules, we will encounter corrective pain and discipline. God is a loving father, but in that love, he wants what’s best for us, which means he’s sometimes a scary, stern father who disciplines us. We should have a healthy fear of him. We don’t need to live in abject terror of God, but we’d be fools to be flippant about our relationship with him.