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Tuesday-It’s Obvious

 

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Galatians 5:19-21

 

When you walk through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, there’s no doubt about where you are. There were signs on the highway as you drove into Disney World. There were more signs on buildings, walls, even on the sidewalks. There were announcements as you got off the monorail, tram, shuttle, or ship.

 

And if that weren’t enough, there’s Cinderella’s Castle. At 189 feet, it’s easily the tallest building in the Magic Kingdom. With its 27 towers, it’s used as a visual reference for aircraft pilots.

 

But it’s not enough that it’s just there. Starting around 6 PM every evening, they start lighting up the castle. And just to make sure you didn’t miss them turning on the lights, Disney shoots off some fireworks to grab your attention.

 

Yes, when you see Cinderella’s Castle, there’s no doubt where you are. There’s no question about your location. It’s as obvious as the nose on your face.

 

It’s the same way when Paul says that the acts of the flesh are obvious. There’s no room for a whole lot of discussion or debate. It’s a simple and straight-forward list that’s out there for everyone to see. There’s no doubt about them. They’re as obvious as the nose on your face.

 

Paul’s appealing to what they know in their hearts to be true. There’s a clearly defined and known list of things that God, in his loving and compassionate grace towards us, says are not in line with who he is. It’s not so much that it’s bad for us, but that it’s not part of who he is.

 

Something that’s obvious isn’t on the inside of anything, but on the outside of everything. It’s not hidden or covered-up but out in the open, on display for all the world to see. It’s not unseen or unknown. It’s not wrapped up but unwrapped and pointed to.

 

Think about it like this: God’s words to Adam[1] not to eat the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil wasn’t just to stop him from going out of bounds or to selfishly stop him from experiencing something. God wasn’t holding something back just to be greedy or unkind.

 

Just listen to Eve’s observations about the fruit[2].

 

  • Good for food – she could tell just by looking at it that it was healthy and natural, that it would give strength to her body, making her more complete.

  • Pleasing to the eye – everything about it outward appearance was excellent, it was perfectly formed, there were no imperfections or rotten spots on it.

  • Desirable for gaining wisdom – there was something about the fruit that made Eve think that it would give her greater insight into living, making her smarter and wiser.

 

Yes, the list does look tempting. It sure sounds like it’s something that I’d enjoy. Something full of pleasure. Something that could be helpful to me and harmful to the people that are against me.

 

And here’s where the trouble starts. Paul says the list is obvious, but not everyone agreed with his list back then, and they certainly don’t agree with it today.

 

Most everyone says that there’s some sort of list, but just don’t put my particular thing on your list. And there’s a group that says any list is just too restrictive. Why should we stop anyone from doing anything? If it’s between two or more consenting adults, what’s the harm? Why be restrictive? Why be so narrow-minded?

 

The assumption is that we have the smarts and ability not only to figure out what’s right and wrong, but to have the strength to follow that wisdom. What’s good for me isn’t up for debate. I get to decide and no one else.

 

One summer, we were getting ready to head out for a week’s vacation at the beach. While Mary Ann and I were busily packing, our three-year-old daughter went outside to play. She picked up a mushroom growing in the grass and ate it.

 

There were no warning signs, flashing red lights, or alarm sirens going off. It looked OK to her, so she picked it and popped it in her mouth. We gladly delayed our departure as we worked desperately to retrieve the mushroom from her stomach.

 

Now, were we being narrow-minded? Restrictive? Were we limiting her and her choices? In a word: You-bet-cha! Not everything in this life is helpful. As a matter of fact, many things are downright harmful. Some things are a one-way ticket to leave this world.

 

We loved her too much just to abandon her to herself. And God’s loving kindness toward you is too important just to let you drift away from him. That’s why he comes running towards us[3]

 

God’s love for you is obvious. If you wonder about that, or even doubt it, just look at Jesus dying on the cross for you. That’s the single most obvious truth in the history of the world. Depend on it. Depend on him.


[1] Genesis 2:16,17

[2] Genesis 3:6

[3] Luke 15:20

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