The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks

 

May 16, 2018



GK Chesterton once wrote that if you were sitting in a restaurant and a rhinoceros was to enter the establishment, the rhino would have a great deal of power in the situation. It could knock people around, trash the place, stop business transactions, ruin the waiters’ day, etc.

There is no doubt that an animal that weighs more than a ton could certainly wreak havoc in a restaurant. However, as much power as the rhino could exercise, it would have absolutely no authority. The rhino couldn’t fire employees or change the price of dessert or order new supplies for the kitchen or anything else.

The rhino’s presence would be tough to ignore, but its authority is completely limited to its ability to use its physical strength in the moment. Chesterton’s point is regarding sin in the life of followers of Jesus. Sin is powerful. A great explanation of the power of sin can be found in Romans 7. Paul talks about how sin in his life makes him do things he doesn’t want to do. He desired to do right, but sin was always there to pull him toward wrong.

Anyone who has ever struggled with an addiction or lost their temper and yelled at someone who didn’t deserve it or lied in the moment to get out of trouble can see the strength of sin in our lives. I’ve never met anyone who, in total honesty, can say that they’ve never wrestled with a strong inclination to do the wrong thing.

The Bible teaches that all men are inclined toward sin, which is seen in the strong pull we all feel to rebel against rules, even if we are just putting our toes over the line. For all people, the inclination to sin is like the rhino in the restaurant.

In Romans 7, Paul eventually concludes that because he belongs to Jesus, Jesus actually has authority in his life. So, even though he has to wrestle with the rhino in the room, in the end he knows that real authority belongs to Jesus.

The struggle we experience with sin’s power in us is difficult to win in the moment. This is actually the major premise behind the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program. The first few steps are to acknowledge that the addiction has so much power in their lives that they no longer can manage it. The solution is to find God and give Him authority over their lives. I can’t wrestle a rhino, but God can on my behalf.

For Paul, the solution to the power of sin in our lives is to lean on God’s strength in all things. There are all sorts of mechanisms for doing this, like prayer, reading/memorizing scripture, spending time with other believers, finding people to hold you accountable, worship, etc.

These are difficult, particularly since the rhino in the room doesn’t really want these things to happen and will tend to resist our efforts. Still, it is a fight that can be won. The trick is to persevere through the struggle with an eye on coming through it victorious.

 
 

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