Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Space Junk, Sin, and other Things of a Destructive Nature

I read an article the other day about near tragedy that was averted in space. Seems that the men aboard the International Space Station had quite the close call. A piece of space junk came dangerously close to them; so close, in fact, that they considered rerouting the station's trajectory. Images of gigantic pieces of discarded technology came to mind as I tried to figure out what could be so serious that they would attempt an avoidance maneuver. And then I discovered the culprit--according to the story, what struck fear in the hearts of the astronauts in space and the controllers on the ground was a six inch piece of debris. That's right, six inches. Not six feet, not some unimaginably large piece of garbage; a little 6 inch piece of trash was enough to raise the specter of an avoidance maneuver. I'm not sure what all that would entail but I'm pretty sure that changing the trajectory of the space station is slightly more complicated than parallel parking my minivan.

Like me, you might be wondering, "Why make such a big deal about something so small?" And the reason is simple--this wasn't just a six inch long piece of garbage. It was a six inch long piece of garbage traveling at 5 miles per second. I'll give you a moment to try and wrap your noodle around that. That, as we say in the south, is putting the hammer down. The reason the astronauts were prepared for an avoidance maneuver wasn't because of the size of the object; it was because of the damage it could have caused.

And that's what really struck me about this story. For the sake of such a small piece of debris, they were willing to go to all the trouble of changing the flight path of the International Space Station. Seems like much ado about nothing--until you consider the damage this tiny piece of debris could have caused. In light of that, an avoidance maneuver would be the least they could do, right?

Now here's the point. The bible describes something that is even more dangerous, contains even more potential for damage than a lightening fast piece of space debris--sin. Sin kills, it maims, it destroys; it separates us from God, it hinders our walk and it ruins our testimonies. But we rarely treat it that way. Sure, we'll try and avoid the "big" sins. We won't run around on our wives--but in the secrecy of our homes, with a few clicks of a mouse we'll indulge the flesh with pornographic fantasies. We won't murder anyone--but we'll hold grudges and simmering anger deeply in our hearts and refuse to lay them aside.

You see, it doesn't take much sin to ruin us. In I Corinthians 5 Paul warned the church against this attitude. In vs6 he says, "Don't you know that just a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" The church was proud of their accepting attitude towards sin and sinners. And Paul says, "That's the wrong idea! Sin is dangerous, it has the potential to destroy you. Rather than embracing it, you need to be planning an avoidance maneuver!"

Just as the astronauts were willing to completely change the trajectory of the space station to avoid this tiny piece of debris, I need to be willing to do whatever it takes to avoid sin in my life. God hasn't called to be pretty good. He's called me to be holy. Because of the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross, and because I've surrendered to Him and turned from my sins, I am positionally holy. But God calls me to practical holiness, to living on the outside according to who He's made me to be on the inside. To be holy means I must shun sin, I must turn from it, I must always be ready for avoidance maneuvers. Doesn't mean I lock myself in my home and never leave. Means that I seek to avoid anything that could make me stumble into sin. And do that not so that I'll be holier than someone else or so I can earn God's favor. I do that so I can bring honor and glory to my Great King, to please the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. I encourage you, make sure that you don't overlook the danger of sin. Be ready with an avoidance maneuver. And spend each day in the pursuit of holiness--to the glory of our King.

Father, thank You for loving me and saving me. Keep the dangers of sin ever before me, and help me to continue to run to You for strength and wisdom to overcome sin. Help me be who You have created me to be, for Your honor and for Your glory. Amen.

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