One evening several years ago, as I fixed popcorn on the stove for my kids (the old fashioned way), an inadvertent blunder became fodder for an object lesson I used years later as a friend and I led our church's junior high and high school youth group.
We had been discussing personal and spiritual "boundaries" in the group, so I decided to reach back into my kitchen from years before for my popcorn mishap to demonstrate the chaos of a life without boundaries. Ushering all the students into the church kitchen, I pulled out a large pot, added oil and a scoop of popcorn kernels. After turning up the heat, I began visiting with the kids, making sure all were out of reach of any splattering hot oil. This time, I intentionally left the lid off the pot.
Within minutes, as the oil began to sizzle, the kids watched the bubbling pot with great expectancy, some more daring than others, leaning in as closely as possible, while others hid behind their friends. Each got a quick glance of the kernels hissing in the sizzling oil as their shell slowly swelled, cracking slightly, then finally popping . . . first one, then another . . . and another.
It was entertaining for a while, with wild laughter and shouts as dancing kernels burst open, flying aimlessly and erratically about the kitchen. Some turned the lesson into a contest, catching the flying popcorn in their mouths. Finally, as popping rapidly increased, I was forced to quickly slide the lid into place as the kids watched in disbelief at the mess on the floor and counter tops of the church kitchen.
So, what do our lives and popcorn have in common?
BOTH REQUIRE BOUNDARIES.
When we live our lives outside of man-made boundaries, we are tempting fate as well as the law. Living outside the spiritual boundaries and principles established by God is ultimately tempting God.
We become swollen with pride and arrogance as we dance in the sizzle of risky behavior as though we are above the consequences, often ignoring the cracks developing in our family or career, risking not only our own safety, but also the safety and well-being of others. It may very well be entertaining at first, with little regard for the first few bursts of sporadic and seemingly harmless eruptions; however, as we continue to disregard boundaries with an unrepentant heart, and the environment predictably proceeds to heat up with fleshly fervor and cavalier conduct, chaos is sure to follow leaving evidence of our foolishness strewn about our family and/or social circles.
It’s the nature of the beast. Sin is pleasurable and enjoyable for a season (Heb. 11:25), but it always leaves destruction in its wake—to relationships, health, trust, security, careers, finances, reputations, etc. There are no winners, only losers. And then we wonder why things are falling apart, often assuming the victim role. Or worse, we blame God for our downfalls.
God's word tells us that "love covers a multitude of sins". (1 Peter 4:8) So does Dysfunction. The difference is that one leads to Healing, while the other continues to wreak havoc for generations to come.
"Woe to the rebellious children," declares the LORD, "Who execute a plan, but not Mine, And make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, In order to add sin to sin". Is.30:1"Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries."
(1 Peter 4:1-3)
Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and tries to convince us that living in the sizzle is "where it's at", it's "the real life", the "full" life, but it only leads to destruction. (John 10:10, Prov. 14:12)
Jesus came that we may have TRUE life, absolute and complete, free from the pain of living outside His principles, the life filled with drama, trauma, and an unhappy mama! The life He offers within His kingdom on earth is a life that is rich, full and abundant with the goodness and favor of God, who loves to bestow these blessings on His children. (Matt. 7:11)
Father, we thank you for the eternal life we have in Christ, and also for the abundant life He offers when we choose to walk with Him daily. For those Lord who have been lured into the sizzle of another direction--one that the father of lies has convinced them of their need "just this one time", I understand where they are. I've been there. So Holy Spirit, I ask that for those who are struggling right now, that You will stir their heart to hunger not for the sizzle, but for the peace that passes all understanding as it guards their hearts and mind in Christ Jesus, in Jesus' name, amen and amen.