Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Genesis 31 - Island

Sin is never an island.

I wish it were. I wish that it was easy to isolate sin like finding a single leak in a dam. Having patched it, we could walk away confident that everything was under control.

I used to think that. I used to believe that if I got my biggest issue under control, everything else would be fine. But over the years I have realized how wrong that is. If I run with the dam analogy, then sin is a rushing river. When I patch one hole or fix one weak spot, it starts to look for another. It pushes and pulls at our lives until another weakness is revealed.

For me, that meant when I got my lust under control, my work addictions went crazy. Suddenly, I started looking for the same sense of control, false of course, that lust had given me, but in a different way. I didn't fix anything, my sin just continued inside my life to a different place. When I focused on fixing work, it flowed to my relationship with my wife. When we worked on things together it moved on to some childhood stuff I needed to deal with. It just kept going and going and going.

That was what Chapter 31 of Genesis felt like tonight. It's just a train wreck. Jacob is fleeing Laban by lying to him. He is stealing away under false pretenses. Meanwhile, Rachel adds to the sin parade by stealing Laban's idols. She then lies about having them, when Laban chases them down. The lives in this story are so tied together in sin and failure.

The chapter feels like an episode of the show "Cops." Just one sin after another, flowing from life to life to life.

Sin is not a circle. It is a figure eight. When you think you've stopped it, when you think you've dammed it, it flows to another part of the figure eight. And if you're like me, sin is actually a big ball of yarn, with a thousand entries and tangles and pathways, woven together so tightly they choke. And without God they only get more knotted.

Things are going to come unraveled in this story soon. God is about to do some cool stuff that I can't wait to write about from these chapters. But until then, remember something simple. Sin is never an island. It always travels with friends.


Katherine Laine said...

So what do you suggest be done about it, Jon?

If 'patching' one sin only leads to another, do we then stop 'patching'?

Prodigal Jon said...

Not at all. I think the answer, not a silver bullet or magic wand mind you, comes in the life of Joseph. Stick around, someone shared an idea with me that I will share on this site when we get to Joseph

chrisdliu said...

those are great analogies! something i needed to hear...

smooth stones in my hand said...

Hi, I read SCL and love the way you make me laugh and think about what's really important at the same time. I've never commented though, usually because I don't have anything funny enough to add, or because my experience, as a Christian here in N Ireland is often a bit different.

I just wanted to thank you for your honesty and willingness to point others to God through these reflections - they've become part of my routine and though it seems like our lives are very different I can identify with a lot of what you share.

I read Deuteronomy 10:12-22 this morning and found so many great phrases to meditate on: 'the Lord chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you...therefore, cleanse your sinful hearts and stop being stubborn' 'You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him'

I think that I often seek to exercise control over my life by focusing on one area of sin - patching as you describe it while holding onto a lot of other stuff. My stubbornness doesn't want to let go all at once, yet I'm coming to see the only way to live is to cling to God, and you can't really cling with only one hand!

Thanks again.

Campman62 said...

...Woe-uuh, the whole "sin is like a knotted & twisted, prickly ball of yarn" really blows the old "Sin is like a snowball" analogy right out of the water...

*Jon, do you remember Briar Rabbit & Briar Fox (circa~Uncle Remus)? They got pretty mixed up w/a fellow named "Tar Baby" aka..."Desire" (sin).

*Hot, sticky, black tar & a ball of yarn...OUCH! (Pride & Desire...Yes Siree, they'll mess ya up real good.)

*Praise Our Father of 2nd Chances today for His great gifts of Forgiveness, Mercy & Grace!!!

~Blessings to you & your wife this day my brother.

Daniel GJ said...

Just want to give a suggestion, to include or link to the day's chapter so I won't need to get my bible if I want to read along. Cause honestly I haven't for any of these posts. This is not supposed to be negative ctrizism but a suggestion. Can't wait until Joseph!


timhatch27 said...

Maybe our problem with a figure eight and sin is that we are always making ourselves and our issues the center of our thoughts, actions, and attitudes.

I find that the more i make myself the center of my walk with Christ the more depressed, obsessed, and unimpressed i am . . .

Rather than focus on my sins only - I receive Christ's righteousness in this or that area . . . a start at least . . . then my life is centered on what HE DID and not what I do.

eastern ky pastor said...

If I may make a suggestion for Katherine - and I hope I'm not stealing any thunder from Jon - it helps me to see that sin isn't so much about the wrong actions, but rather what's going on in my heart. If my heart is filled with self-centeredness and selfishness, then the wrong actions of sin are inevitable. But, if I am open to God changing my heart, then my heart will be filled with love and grace. Then my actions will be self-sacrificing that help others and ultimately brings glory to Jesus. I won't pretend that this is an easy process, but it's a lot easier than suffering the consequences of my selfishness.

katdish said...

If fire ants have reached your particular area, then perhaps you can relate sin to fire ant mounds.

You can never really get rid of fire ants. You kill one mound, and another mound will pop up a few yards away. You can treat your entire yard for a season, but your neighbor will get the ants from your yard. If left untreated, fire ants can take down a full sized cow. Sin is like that. Address it when it's a small problem, and it is less likely to take your life down in a big way. Sin will keep popping up in different areas, just be prepared to deal with it when it does. If you don't have fire ants, this probably makes no sense at all.

Flesheater said...

This is very true.

I used to (and sometimes still try to convince myself) that if I could just overcome my lust issues my Spiritual life would be amazing.

But when Im doing really good with that stuff.. I'm just messing up in other areas.

I become real lazy, or mean, or etc.

overcoming one problem won't fix them all.

All we can do is rely on G-d, trust in His forgiveness and try harder.