Friday, January 20, 2012
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One of the most challenging and graceful track and field events has got to be the pole vault. There's this athlete running, then he's airborne on that pole, now he's gliding up and over that bar. Can't you picture it? Well, up at least! Oh, no! The bar comes crashing down; the "vaulter" didn't clear the bar. But wait! Here come the officials! Listen to what they're saying to the unsuccessful "vaulter", "Oh, that a little high for you wasn't it? Listen, why don't we lower the bar a couple of notches? We'll just keep lowering it until you can clear it."
Don't hold your breath looking for a scene like that on the Olympics or any other sports program. They're going to never lower the bar in a track meet. Of course, it's happening all the time in the church.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Bar Stays Where it Is."
There's an interesting trend among God's people today to sort of re-write God's laws when someone I love has violated them. Now, if a friend or family member of yours hasn't cleared God's standards, isn't it interesting how we suddenly find justification for lowering the bar?
In our word for today from the Word of God, 1 Samuel 13:14, David was the one who was described as "a man after God's own heart." And yet we know that by 2 Samuel 12, he has committed a gross sin of adultery with Bathsheba, and then setting up her husband to die on the front lines. Here is the man God loves; the man after His own heart. But listen to what God says through the prophet Nathan. "Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, David, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah to be your own."
This is what the Lord says, "out of your own household I'm going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this in broad daylight before all Israel." See, the man God loved didn't clear the bar. Did God lower it? No. He can't. But apparently we can when it's a choice between the laws of God and our love for someone close to us, well we tend to re-write the laws to fit the one we love; to find a loophole that they can squeeze through.
We can be very clear as to what the Bible says about sex, about abortion, about divorce, about marrying an unbeliever, about revenge, until someone close to us steps outside those boundaries. It's amazing how we suddenly start twisting verses, finding loopholes, re-interpreting Scripture, playing theological games that satisfy our logic but not God's holiness, and we accept some unacceptable compromises.
When sin gets close to home, it can teach us how to be more merciful than we've been before, how to be less judgmental. And it can give us a wonderful opportunity to show God's unconditional love for people whether they clear the bar or not. But we dare not try in the process of loving and forgiving and accepting people in a sinful moment. We dare not try to lower God's standard. He didn't for the man He loved deeply, and we can't either.
To be sure, God picks us up when we fail and when we collapse on the other side of our sin, but He won't bend His laws for anyone. He can't, and neither can we. The bar stays where it is.