Have you ever watched a rodeo before? Those bull riders are an interesting breed for sure. They knowingly climb over a gate, strap themselves to the back of 2000 pound bull, nod their cowboy hat and try to hang on for 8 seconds. Talk about a short ride for a whole lot of risk. Most of those guys are trying to get paid, fill their adrenaline need, and find fame doing what they love, but at any moment things could turn deadly. I would be lying if I said I never considered bull riding. At the age of 34 though, I sometimes can’t get out of bed without pain, let alone ride a bull. But 10 to 15 years ago, I might have been foolish enough to try. I did ride a holstein steer over a hill once, but no one saw. There was no bucking or jumping and I didn’t have anything to hang on to. I am pretty sure I made it 8 seconds.
Sin is a lot like riding a bull. We try it out. We like the rush and the excitement. It makes us feel really alive in the moment. There is a feeling like we will become somebody because we are doing this. You try to hold on as long as you can. You ride the first time and lived to tell about it. But under the surface, you have no clue how this could turn fatal in any moment. “The wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23a. We think we can possibly beat sin and its consequences. That we are somehow smarter or stronger than sin is. We risk shame of being caught. We risk our intimacy with God and others to get it. We are willing to risk it all because we just have to have it. What is the sin? Pick one! Sin is sin. It could be an addiction, murder, adultery, lying, pride, stealing or just a condescending look toward someone. All sin leads to death. The interesting thing is that we still think we can beat it. To paraphrase Levi Lusko, he said we seek small bursts of life on our to death. But Jesus calls us to something different, a lot of small deaths on our way to life.
Satan convinces us to fall for something our flesh desires. He wants us trapped by sin and heading toward death. Now, if you are a believer, this doesn’t mean that you could possibly lose your salvation. But there are many things that you could lose (dead to you) because of your choice to habitually sin. I am not immune to this. I get wrapped up in sin just like everyone else. Something that is so innocent turns into an obsession and before we know it; it becomes an addiction that we are far too comfortable in. This is not what Jesus has planned for us with the abundant life that He spoke of in the gospel of John. Look at what the writer of Hebrews 12:1 said, ” Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” We have to lay aside every hindrance and sin to be able to run the race because others are watching your life. So right now, you have a choice: hang on to the sin that leads to death or let go so you can run well toward Jesus. It might mean that you have to cut relationships from your life, it might mean changing your lifestyle, or it could be coming to Christ for salvation. What ever sin you are holding on to, it is like a boa constrictor circling your life and slowly choking you to death. Today is your wake up call, lay it aside.
Some of you may be thinking that if you give up the sin, that you will cease to have fun. The bible even admits that sin is fun…for a season. The reality is that it is a short ride with a lot of risk that ends in death. Christ saves us for a purpose and part of that purpose is to experience life that is free and exciting. The problem we have with this idea is that we have looked at a lot of Christians and they would not be described as free or exciting. Sadly, that is true. But if you look at Hebrews 12:2, it will cue you into how to have a free and exciting life. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Sounds like a party right!!! The writer explains that when our eyes are fixed on Jesus, we win because of what He did on the cross. When we seek adventure and excitement, it needs to be centered on our faith in Him as He perfects our faith. There is a weird line in there though, “despising the shame.” I believe in the middle of all that Christ did in His life, ministry, death, resurrection, and current work; He still wants us to avoid shameful behavior. He wants us to walk by faith and not having to do the walk of shame. He despises shame because He loves us so much. Your focus must be on Jesus alone to find the kind of satisfaction your soul seeks. If He found joy in going to the cross for our sins, then surely we can find joy walking toward Him by faith.
What are you going to do with your short ride? Hold on to sin as it leads to death or fix your eyes on Christ so that you can finish well. As a person who has walked in sin with shame and walked with my eyes fixed on Jesus; I prefer the peace that comes with walking by faith toward Jesus. So the next time you feel temptation come your way, lay it aside and fix your eyes on Jesus. Let me tell you, it’ll be the ride of your life. When you walk by faith, you will experience freedom, excitement, adventure, and an adrenaline rush that rivals anything. On top of all that, it leads to life!!!!
Grace and Peace to you as you let go of sin and fix your eyes on Jesus Christ.