This past Sunday I had the privilege of attending Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA, and the sermon that morning was preached by Andy Stanley. First of all, let me say that I am generally very skeptical about mega-churches and charismatic pastor personalities that draw thousands of people en masse. Having said that, I’m not gonna lie–he was AWESOME. The sermon totally knocked my socks off. Andy Stanley is an incredibly sharp guy, and he is clearly a man who knows the Word, as well as possessing great insight into human nature, so it was a wonderful blessing to learn from him.
The sermon he preached was about the importance of considering the path on which your decisions are placing you. When you make a choice, is it directing you in a way that honors God, or in a way that leads to destruction? No decision is done in isolation–each decision is just one step of a larger trajectory, so you are always stepping toward or away from God depending on the decision you make. That was the basic thrust of the sermon.
However, there was one tidbit of wisdom that really stuck with me more than anything else he said that morning. He was talking about how often we think that we are exceptions to the rule. We reason, “I know that a large percentage of couples who live together before marriage will end up getting divorced, but that won’t be us. We just love each other too much.” Or, “I know that I probably drink too much, but I can control my drinking. I’m not like those other people who can’t stop.” All of these people are guilty of believing that the rules don’t apply to them, or that they can somehow bend the rules to their personal situation.
Well in response to this thinking, Stanley responded with the following wisdom: “We cannot break principles. We can only break ourselves against them.”
Looking back over my life, I can see that no truer words have been spoken. So many times I have rationalized my decisions, thinking that even though I probably shouldn’t have been dating a certain guy, or I shouldn’t have said or done certain things, that I could still control the consequences so that they would play out the way I desired. Well that never happened. On the contrary, I always ended up getting hurt, disappointed, and usually very broken.
This is the nature of truth. What God establishes, no man can put asunder, so if God declares that sex is designed for marriage alone, we cannot change that truth. If God declares that we should deal justly and lovingly with others, then we cannot change that truth either. Whatever God declares, we can do nothing to alter it. We can only suffer the consequences when we choose to run up against it. It is as if we are running toward a brick wall, all the while willing it to crumble before we reach it, but it doesn’t crumble, so we smack right into it.
The funny thing is that we see the wall coming long before we hit it. We know it’s ahead of us, but we keep running anyway. And trying to bend or break God’s principles is as fruitless as trying to crumble a brick wall with your mind. Not only are both tasks impossible, but incredible harmful, if not deadly.
So in the same way that Stanley’s sermon was a helpful reminder for me, I hope it challenges you as well. Whatever areas of your life in which you are hedging on God’s teachings, bending His commands, or trying to change His everlasting truths to suit your life or personal circumstances, just remember that God’s divine principles never break–we only break ourselves against them. The consequences are coming.
I heard a preacher say a couple weeks ago that it’s better to learn by acceptance rather than experience. And actually he’s the preacher of a mega-church, too – Colonial Baptist in Cary. So it’s good to know sound doctrine is coming out of these places.