My route to church takes me along a back road that is completely surrounded by open fields. On a normal trip, I can see prairie dogs standing guard, foraging for food, and playing little rodent games. But for the most part, they stay off the road and cling to the safety of their homes.
The other day was a different story. I was on my way to church for praise band practice, and I turned onto that back road. What I saw next formed a lump in my throat. As far as I could see down that stretch of road, prairie dogs bodies were scattered all over the pavement. I couldn’t understand it. Why would they leave their homes and venture into the road to do battle with forces that were bigger and stronger than they were? Tears formed in my eyes as I slowly made my way through the carnage like a one-man funeral procession.
Ok. Maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but it did make me think. It was weird to me that all of these little creatures would suddenly abandon all caution and venture onto a road that held nothing but death and destruction for them.
Well, like the good little writer that I am, I drew a parallel from the prairie dog war zone to our lives as Christians. As believers, we are safe from the dangers of the devil. If we walk with Christ, he will protect our souls and keep us pure and holy for Him. And like our ancestors in Bible times, we are given a set of guidelines to help keep us separate for God.
I know, I know. Our works don’t save us and I’m not implying that. But I am saying that how we act as professing Christians is a direct reflection of our relationship with Christ, if indeed there truly is one.
“A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” (Matthew 7:17-20 NLT)
Sandwiched in those verses is a dire warning for Christians. “So every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” I am not going to be so bold as to say whether this means you will go to hell or if you will just be removed from this Earth. But what I can say, with certainty, is that I don’t care what it means, I just know it’s bad and I want no part of it!
With warnings like that in Scripture, I can’t help but think that Christians would do everything possible to make sure that every moment of every day was somehow spent bringing glory to God. Sadly, it seems as though more and more believers are getting close to the road, gingerly walking the line between freedom in Christ and the bondage of sin.
I’m not saying that we should lock ourselves in a room and spend all day praying and studying the Word. That would render us useless here on Earth. What I am saying is to be careful with your liberties.
Without opening too big a can of worms, let me give a practical example. Alcohol is a hot-button issue amongst Christians, and for good reason. Personally, as I have struggled with alcoholism in the past as have others in my family, I am against it and don’t think that believers should have any part of it. That being said, is drinking alcohol a sin? My answer is still no. As far as I can tell, we are never commanded to not drink alcohol. (Now, this could go into a huge discussion, and many books have even been written on the topic of alcohol in the Bible. I just want to keep it simple as this is merely for illustrative purposes.)
Although the Bible doesn’t condemn the consumption of alcohol, there are several verses that give strong warning against it.
“Wine produces mockers, alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.” (Proverbs 20:1 NLT)
“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, to guzzle wine. Rulers should not crave alcohol. For if they drink, they may forget the law and not give justice to the oppressed.” (Proverbs 31:4-5 NLT)
I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to put myself in position where I might forget the law of God. It doesn’t take much alcohol to start compromising a mental state. There’s too much at risk, terrestrially and eternally for me to take the chance that I would do something outside of what God would have me do.
Although that is just an example, and if you drink, please know that I am not condemning you. I am merely saying that we need to be careful how close to the road we get. We can’t step out into a place that we shouldn’t be in the first place and expect God to heroically swoop down and protect us from everything that comes our way. We should obey God and steer clear of the temptations that pull us towards the road.