Have you ever noticed that the word that really stands out in a list of words is the one that is misspelled? Or that the kids may behave themselves for hours but the first little squabble is the thing that gets our attention?
It seems to be a human characteristic to notice the errors, the out-of-harmony, the imperfect. We even tend to focus on the things that someone else says we cannot do. How many children will touch the stove, just to see if it’s really hot? How many people test the wet paint, even with the “wet paint” sign plainly visible? Our jails are full of people who push against the legal, ethical, and moral limits in our society. Resistance to outside authority is the common expression of a very human attraction to the forbidden.
Christians are often challenged from this point of view. “I could never be a Christian, you have too many rules, too many things that you can’t do.” Again, their focus is on the forbidden.
This attitude has its roots in a character who Jesus Christ calls “the father of lies.” It began when the serpent came to Eve in the garden of Eden. His approach, although new to her, has become very familiar to us, in all its variations. “Didn’t God say you couldn’t eat of “every” tree? After all, Eve, what kind of a paradise is this if you can’t eat from “all” the trees?”
Eve had been freely and innocently enjoying everything that was there to be enjoyed, but with the serpents suggestion, she lost her perspective. She began to look at the one thing that God had forbidden her to have. It began to have an appeal. Forgetting that all her desires were already being perfectly fulfilled, she took the forbidden fruit. In doing so, she gained what she thought would be good, but she lost everything else. Ever since then, the human race has been unable to relate to paradise with restrictions.
It is not easy to focus on the positive. Afraid that we will miss something, we are drawn to the negative, to the forbidden. In doing so, we lose, lose our perspective, and perhaps lose much more.
Jesus Christ tells us that since He is “the way, the truth, and the life,” we can keep our own lives moving in the right direction by steadfastly focusing on Him. He has never been affected by the negative or the forbidden. He is the perfect role-model, and in following Him, we will have “the light of life.” This light helps us to see beyond the negatives to the abundance of positive things that are ours in Him.
The Apostle Paul, in giving his life entirely in service to his Lord and Savior, was able to endure the negative because He looked beyond them. He said, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Christians are by no means deprived by not involving themselves in some of the activities that others do. Instead, we are freed from bondage to those things. He has opened our eyes to see Him, the life-giver, and He takes our focus off the forbidden things that others think they cannot live without.
(Amusing note: when this was first published it had to be retyped from my hard copy. It went into the newspaper with thirteen spelling mistakes.)