Quite a few years ago a friend asked me if I wanted to come for a ride in his boat. We were at Pugwash for those of you who know where that it. It's on the Nova Scotia side of the Northumberland Strait which runs between Nova Scotia and PEI.
I said yes of course and soon we were cruising east across the water from the town of Pugwash. We passed our church camp and continued east. He wanted to show me a beautiful property at Fox Harbour. After passing that we came to this tiny island. I've always been fascinated by islands and this one was truly bizarre. Not a tree on it, there was one little building and hundreds of birds. The name of the island was super creative: Bird Island...
Paul stopped the boat and I was in my bathing suit so I jumped in the water and swam over to see this bizarre little island. The birds didn't attack but there wasn't much to see so I didn't stay long. I would like to know who built the tiny shack and why.
I jumped back in the water and began to swim. Instantly I knew I was in trouble. The boat was a good 100 ft or more away from the island and because of shallow water and rocks couldn't get closer. It had been so easy to swim to the island but swimming away was near impossible. You guessed it. The tide had created a strong current and I was swimming against it. I have never swam so long and so hard to go such a short distance. More than once I doubted I was going to make it.
So easy to swim with the current and so hard to swim against it...
I could break chapter 7 down into smaller bites but it really needs to be left as a whole. It deals with the role of the law, our position as Christians, and the reality of our struggle. First of all you will note right at the opening that Paul is writing to "brethren who know the law". He is writing to people in the church who know. They know all the "Thou shalt nots".
He starts out by comparing our lives to marriage. Marriage lasts as long as life lasts. When you die your spouse is no longer married and free to marry someone else. Baptism is our death and we rise free to "marry another".
See before Jesus we are all slaves "married" to our desires and thought nothing of it. Our behaviours and choices were all desire driven. Then we meet Jesus, "die" to our old lawless life and rise to a new life where we are free to live above our desires rather than be slaves to them.
Problem: the desires don't just go away. In fact Paul says they get worse. He says it's like just knowing the law makes you want to break it. For those of you who have tried dieting do you think about food more or less when you are on a diet? Exactly! It seems knowing right makes wrong even more enticing.
Then Paul describes what swimming against the current is like. "The things I want to do (keep the law) I don't do and the very things I don't want to do I do (sin). I want to get to the boat but I keep getting sucked back toward the island I'm trying to leave. I left Egypt and I want to get to the Promised land but I keep getting drawn back toward Egypt.
The struggle is real and hard and I'm losing. Who will rescue me from this mess I'm in?
See you tomorrow