Thursday, September 13, 2012
Today’s Topic: Increase the Margin
Today’s Text: Ezra 10:11 (ESV) 11 Now then make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.”
I tend to tailgate. My wife and my friends, in fact anyone who rides with me when I’m driving, knows that I stay too close to the car in front of me. Speed doesn’t matter. When I’m behind the wheel of a car I’m an incognito NASCAR driver. Every trip, whether on the highway or around town, is a race, and the object is to get there as fast as possible and beat everyone else to that location. I must be first.
Pretty sad, right? Maybe more scary than sad. But thanks to the constant encouragement of my wife and friends, I’m doing much better controlling the urge to ride in someone else’s draft.
The general rule of thumb is that you need at least two car lengths between vehicles for every ten miles per hour of speed that you are traveling so that there is adequate space to react and stop in the event that the car in front of you stops suddenly. I use Mini Coopers as my standard measurement of car length. Because of the difficulty estimating car length distances, especially at freeway speeds, the two-second rule has come into existence. No matter what speed you are travelling, maintain a two second distance between you and the car in front of you.
Obviously, the distance between the two cars must increase as the speed increases. The margin must become greater to maintain control in the event of a hazard up ahead. But for most of us, the distance between vehicles is the same at all speeds. When the car in front goes faster, so do we. After all, we have to maintain visual contact with them so we can take advantage of an opportunity to pass them and get ahead.
Not only is this a dangerous choice in driving, but it is extremely dangerous in our spiritual lives. The world is increasing its speed away from God, and many of us have sped up with them. We started out years ago at a very safe distance from the sin of the world. We were able to see the potholes that emerged from under the car in front of us in plenty of time to avoid them ourselves. We saw their vehicles swerve and spin out of control as they ignored the winter road conditions and for safety we even slowed down to increase the margin.
However, in general, as the world has sped up and driven themselves farther and farther from the Father, we have travelled with them. We justify it by saying that we have maintained as safe margin, but little do we realize the truth that we are now where they were just a few years ago. What we called a danger to holiness is now common among Christians. What we knew were potentially deadly choices before have now become lifestyle choices that are easily accepted.
We choose divorce over commitment, sexual expression over purity, materialism over trust in God’s promise of provision, and with destructive consequences that ruin our testimony of faith in the transforming power of Jesus Christ, we choose the right to personal freedoms rather than sacrifice those liberties for the sake of others. We proclaim and pursue personal privileges at the expense of a humble heart, all the while preaching humility to sinners as the only way of salvation, thereby earning the title of hypocrite. We drink alcohol proudly and publicly at the expense of new believers who are trying to climb out of that pothole and we are the reason they stumble and fall back in. We indulge in every opportunity for financial gain and social status at the expense of our own heart’s intimacy with Christ based on a life of contentment with His choices for us. We claim to have maintained adequate separation from the world, but we look just like the world did a decade ago.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we must increase our margin from the world. Do we not remember the words of God as applied to our lives by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18?
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
Let not the Enemy of our souls begin his attack on us with thoughts of justifying our position. Let us with humble hearts fall on our faces before God and realize that we are travelling through life much too close to the world. Let us put on the brakes right now, and if necessary shift into reverse, and return to a position of holiness as described by God and not the world. Let us increase the separation as the day draws near when we will be permanently separated from this world at the return of our Lord. Only in this way will we be able to slow others down and bring them with us into glory.