We began a new sermon series this past Sunday at our church.
I must tell you, at 45 years old, I have heard a total of…well, let’s see…yep: 45 years of sermons on the topic of Sin. Yet, as is the case all too often, hearing something at one time in your life can mean something completely different at another time. Sunday, I “heard” something that has never fully set in before:
Sin is not about a rule that we’ve broken. Or something that disappoints the church.
Sin is relational. It is about a broken relationship.
At the beginning of the service, Eric passed around baskets of apples. We were each to take one and hold it throughout the service. Even though the Bible never says it’s an apple that Adam and Eve ate, we have embraced the symbolic idea that it was something wonderfully sweet and appealing: many times, an apple is the understood fruit of choice.
As I contemplated Eric’s definition of sin, I began asking myself, “What is it in my life that causes a broken relationship with God? With causes a break in my relationship with others around me?”
See, I’ve been playing around lately with an idea that baffles me a bit. There’s a segment of my personality that is increasingly becoming bothersome to me. I’m sure it’s been there all along – in varying degrees. But in the last few years it has become increasingly more pronounced.
I fear new things.
I fear things that I have no control over.
I do not like walking into a situation that I don’t have any visual perception or general idea what it’s going to be about.
And it has begun to stymie me more and more the older I get.
I’m not talking about walking into a burning building to rescue my child. Grant it, the unknowns of that scenario don’t thrill me. But rarely is the fear popping up its head in such a dramatic way.
If you call me, for instance, out of the blue and leave me a message that says, “Hey, call me. I have something to ask you.” – calling you back is an unknown situation that I most likely won’t participate in. Why? Fear.
A new meeting at work…
Being left alone in a room of people I don’t know…
Confrontation from a friend or relaying things that are bothering me…
I am afraid.
And I don’t like it.
Medically speaking, a condition is deemed a problem when it interferes with your normal routine of life. That idea has been bumping around in my brain for a few months now, especially as it pertains to Fear. The most difficult question for me to answer is: “How is fear dividing you from time with God or time with others; causing you to go inward?”
Maybe I’ve been living too much ‘inside myself’ these past few years; working from home. I don’t have a great deal of interaction with people on a face-to-face basis. I talk to a TON of people throughout the course of the day – but usually through electronic methods. Have I unwittingly developed some sort of J.D. Salinger-like lifestyle? I like being alone. It is a shock of cold water to be forced into a situation of needing to be around people; an unwelcome intrusion of performance anxiety. This has begun to increasingly bother me. When did I become a fearful recluse? Talking to a large group of people is highly preferred over a one-on-one conversation between just me and one or two others; the intimacy of the situation often difficult for me. I’ve always had these leanings, but lately, it seems to be out of balance and it’s concerning me. Quite honestly, I believe it is a nudge from the Holy Spirit, these reoccurring thoughts on fear. It has been a subject that has appeared to me from different angles. You know what I mean?… When a common theme or line of thinking comes from different and unrelated sources until you begin thinking: Hey, this is something I might need to pay some attention to.
So when Eric asked each of us to take our previously-distributed index cards and write on them what sin (aka: what our apple meant to us) we were grappling with and were willing to lay at the foot of the cross, I wrote 3 things. The first being what I believed to be the root of the fear: Pride. The second being the fear that has stopped me from unknown situations – be they large or small situations. The third being my tendency toward laziness (aka: slothfulness!) when it comes to spending time with God alone. Three things that need chiseling away at. Three things that, at times, alter the distance between me and God and me and my relationships.
Three very difficult areas of life for me. Areas that need the microscope of God’s discipline.
At our individual paces, we each got up and placed our index cards at the foot of the cross that was sitting up front. Scott, much quicker than me. After some prayerful moments with God, I wrote down my areas of need and walked them to the foot of the cross.
What does your apple represent to you?