I remember as a youth worker going to an event which had a ‘bungee run’ where people were attached to this strong elasticated rope and the had to run as fast and as far as they can before the bungee kicked in and pulled them back to the start.
As I watched the kids having a great time on this, it made me think about my own spiritual journey, about how sometimes I left like a ‘bungee-rope-Christian’ whereby I’d be going reasonably well, making progress and then suddenly “Whooaa!” back to square one, down and out the game, left in a bundle on the ground, sat unceremoniously on my butt!
I don’t know about you, but does this sound familiar?
There are some sins, weakness and areas of brokenness that keep on catching us and we end up falling into sin and ending up flat on our faces.
What is your bungee rope?
What is it that will pull you back to your old way of life? What is the sin that so easily entangles?
What is our Achilles’ heel in our walk with God?
Perhaps it is our pride? Our inability to admit we are wrong? Our ability to heed wise council? Or misplaced trust in our own abilities? (Ego, could be an acronym for Edging God Out).
Maybe it is some unresolved personal stuff?
Maybe it is those reliably landmines of money sex and power?
Maybe it is relational, some people just manage to bring out the worst in us, push our buttons, and we end up feeling like we’ve bungeed ourselves back to a crumpled heap on the flood?
I have had times in my Christian life, especially as a teenager and in my early 20’s, I used to feel like my spiritual life was a flourish and fail cycle, a continued and some-what depressing “hamster wheel” of sin, confession absolution only to sin again.
On one level, this is normal, we need to keep short accounts with God, we need to be continually reminded of our reliance and dependence on God, and to keep us mindful of our need of him.
Just because we are a Christian we are not immune to temptation, I often say that once someone has prayed a prayer of commitment that is often when the work starts rather than finishes, in fact once we pledge our allegiance to Christ we become more of a target for spiritual attack. The problem is we forget that we have a real enemy, and wrongly think our Christian life should be a walk in the park rather than a battle.
Having said all this we need to remember that we are “more than conquerors through Christ”, he is delivered us from the powers and dominion of darkness and those who the “Son sets free shall be free indeed”.
When we read the apostle Paul in Romans 7, we see that he sees himself as a ‘sin addict’, a ‘slave to sin’ –“the good I do I don’t do, and the wrong things I don’t want to do I do”, something that resonated with me whilst I did a placement at theological college at the Priory Clinic, the drug and alcohol rehab centre. I discovered that addicts remain addicts all their lives, but yet many go on to live lives in active recovery.
Despite at times feeling like we are on the bungee rope, we need to remember that despite our current circumstances and how things may feel, we need to remember that that “sin does not have the final word over us” nor does sin have the final world over the world. The “it is finished” victory of Jesus changes everything.
Sin can be overcome, “he that is in us is greater than he that is in the world”, in Christ we are more than sin victims, bungee ropes can be broken, people can live lives of freedom and recovery, leapods can and do change their spots, Jesus not only changes lives but changes us too.
Often this is gradual and life-long discipleship shaping, sometimes we experience dramatic change other times we discover that God sneaks up on us and heals and restores us by inches, a little bit over a period of time so that although we don’t notice it, others notice the change in us.
Often this is not just a spiritual thing, but something practical too, we need to bring things into the light with other Christians, we need to help, support and be accountable to each other, supporting each other, ‘carrying one another’s burdens’, ‘iron sharpening iron as one person sharpens another’.
Like the addict in recovery, we need to remember where we come from and being diligent about not slipping back there, not playing fast and loose with sin, not placing ourselves in this those positions of vulnerability where we may get embroiled again in old, familiar and enticing sins and weaknesses.
So, this 2017, let us be people who discover afresh what it means to be truly free in Christ.
Let us know that we can be free of those things that pull us back, often not easily, rarely a quick fix, and frequently an on-going battle, but with Christ a new and brighter future is ahead of us.
And what if you are reading this having been ‘pinged’ to the floor, sometimes getting up and running again is in itself an act of faith in Christ and an act of defiance towards the powers and principalities of darkness.
So, let 2017 be full of victories in our lives, and life lived in new freedom found in living for Christ in active recovery from our addiction to sin.