What's worse, is my natural tendency to think that I am.
I have never liked rules, and in my BC-days (yes, as in before Christ), and even sometimes now, finding a way to exempt myself from following them gave me a great deal of satisfaction.
"You have to study to get good grades" or better yet, "you have to attend class to get good grades"
"You have to work out to have a great figure"
"You have to wear makeup to look pretty"
"You have to put in the most effort to be the best"
The list goes on and on with rules – society's rules of life.
I felt being above the rules made me special somehow, different from the rest of the masses. "Everyone else has to live according to the rules, but not you," my mind subconsciously assured itself, "you're one of the exceptions."
I wanted to be the exception.
My high school and early university years did nothing to discourage this desire. As time wore on, experience after experience pounded into my mind that what made me special, unique, or worthy was that I had risen beyond the matrix; that I saw the rules of life, understood them, and had found a way to live (successfully) above them.
Once I became a Christian, this destructive thought pattern found its way into my walk with God. Not in the early days, no. In the early days, it lay in wait. Hiding beneath my fear of going back to the life I had been redeemed from, it rested. In the early days, I took the rules very seriously: trusting that God knew better than me, not questioning that His rules were in place for a reason.
But as the seasons changed, and I grew, I began to understand the reasons behind the boundaries. And then the thought pattern returned with intentions to take me out of the race for good. Cloaked in false humility, it no longer sang "I'm the best, I'm the best, the rules don't apply to meeee" but instead, "If I fully and deeply understand why God put this boundary in place, there is no way I will fall without it. Even if I place myself in the realm of this temptation, I can handle it."
Simply put? It lied, "I'm strong enough."
David had sex with Bathsheba
Let's switch gears for a moment and consider the story of David and Bathsheba told in 2 Samuel. As the story goes, David is casually walking around his roof when he sees the very beautiful Bathsheba bathing. He sends a messenger to find out who she is, and finds that she is the wife of Uriah, one of his soldiers. David decides he doesn't care, summons her, and they ... you know.
Does this not baffle anyone else the way it baffles me?? Preachers love to put up David as the "example of a sinner" because of this story, and I may be alone in this, but every time I open up the Psalms I am floored by the intimacy David shared with God and the profundity in his understanding of God's character.
If there was ever a man who "got it", it was David. So how on earth did this man fall so rapidly and unglamorously into devastating sin? This story has something to teach us, and it is a lesson on our pride, the sneaky way sin tempts, and something God understands much better than we do: our weakness.
You don't need to be the exception
So what exactly does this teach us? It teaches us that we are not the exception. We are not the one man or women alive who is able to resist temptation. I believe it teaches us that no one, no matter how advanced they are in their faith, how deep their understanding of theology, or how intimate their relationship with God, is exempt from carefully observing the boundary lines He puts in place.
The sometimes extreme- seeming boundary lines are not training wheels to be taken off once we learn how to ride our bikes properly. They are the helmet that we are never meant to part with.
God is all about rules – agreeable ones, life-giving ones. Boundary lines that fall for us in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6). And He says to us, "you already are special – not because you are the exception to any rule, but because I say so".
Tina Hakimi is an Arizona-raised, Sydney-based writer. She's (obviously) still figuring it all out.
Tina Hakimi's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tina-hakimi.html