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WHAT’S GOT YOU HOOKED?

Although I’d like to consider myself a rugged outdoorsman, just getting those words off my lips would be stretching the truth more than integrity would allow.  Like it or not, I’d rather be in a hotel than in a tent; I’d rather get close-up to animals in a zoo rather than in the wild; and I’d rather be eating fish in a nice restaurant than catching one on a fishing poll I’ve had to bait myself.

In fact, I went fishing with a friend just a few years ago… which, I suppose wasn’t all that bad. Of course, my motivation wasn’t to relax “out there” in nature… but to catch more fish than the he did.  And, with him being a fair bit ahead of me, I realized that if I’m gonna catch more fish, then I’m gonna have to start thinking more like a fish.

The funny thing is that they’re not all unlike us.  You see, a fish’s life is pretty much about gratifying their appetitive using the least amount of energy possible.  In other words, for a fish, life is pretty much“see a worm, want a work, eat a worm.” Pretty simply, huh?!  Those Rainbow Trout I was after rarely reflect on where their lives are heading.

A girl Carp, for example, rarely says to a boy Carp, “I don’t think you’re as committed to our relationship as I am. I wonder… do you love me for me or just for my body?” Fish just don’t think that way.  Instead, they’re just a bunch of appetites… not much more than a stomach, mouth, and a pair of eyes.

I mean, how else could they keep falling for that “worm on a hook” scam?! And yet, they’ve been falling for it for years.  You’d think they’d notice the hook or see the line… or eventually make the connection between chomping on a worm and being dragged up out of the lake and into the air.  After all the time these little finned creatures spend in schools, you’d think they’d actually learn something.

It’s a good thing these fish aren’t more like us, right?! We’d never catch them.  And yet, for years and years, satan continues to bait a different kind of hook… and somehow, over and over again, we take the bite. You see, after sharing about the “poor in spirit,” the “meek,” and the “salt of the earth,” Jesus basically says, “Ok, now let’s talk about sex.”

So, He says in Matthew 5, “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart.” He was wanting to talk about an area that keeps getting us “caught” or “snagged” in life.

But, it was more than just lust or adultery. Instead, what Jesus was most concerned about had to do with how sexual brokenness gets in the way of our walking in deep intimacy with the Father. He must’ve also been heartbroken to see just how much of God’s will wasn’t being done “on earth as it is in heaven” because of it.

So, Jesus goes on to say in verses 29, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away…”  Wait… Gouge it out?  A little extreme, isn’t it? OK, granted, lust is a problem— but “gouge them out?!” But, in saying this, Jesus wasn’t trying to simply get us to avoid ungodly sexuality, but rather, to get us to see that this isn’t sex problem… but a heart problem.

That’s what Paul was getting to in Romans 6:16, when he said, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” And, by “righteous living,” He’s not talking about being a squeaky clean Christian. But rather, He’s talking about truly living in the purposes for which we were created… to live in God’s blessing and to then BE a blessing to the world around us.

Satan  has dropped a ton of baited hooks into the lives of your generation… hoping that, because of the condition of our hearts, that you’ll all react just like the Carp and Trout out there… that you’ll simply bite.  But Jesus has called your generation to be SO much more than a stomach, mouth, and pair of eyes. He’s called you to a Diving Assignment to GO into the nations as His Kingdom people… to fiercely proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel of the Kingdom.

If you have already taken the bait and have gotten pulled into a sexual relationship outside of marriage, than Jesus simply wants you to hear His loving invitation to say no to the shinny hook and, instead, climb up on His lap, knowing that only He can truly satisfy your heart.  You may have made horrible choices. You may have violated your promises, betrayed your deepest values… you may have enormous shame & guilt & regret.

And yet, just as Jesus said over and over again through the Beatitudes, “Blessed are you!”  Blessed are you… because there is no sin God cannot forgive for the daughter or son who sincerely repents, who runs home to his or her Heavenly Father.  If you’ve taken the bait… then, as hard as it is, lay it down… and run to Jesus.  He has a plan so much bigger and so much bigger for your life.