Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
Today I found myself listening to one of my old favorite U2 songs tonight, “Running to Stand Still” from the Joshua Tree Album. Here it is if you’ve never had the great pleasure of listening to it:
Literally, it is a song written about the heroin problem that plagued Dublin in the ’80s. You can read all about the imagery within the song at the song’s Wikipedia page. It is considered by many to be one of the most complete U2 songs ever written.
One of the things I like about U2 songs is something I heard someone close to the band say once. Or maybe it was Bono: “Really, you can make our songs about anything you want.” Fans will agree with that as many people find many of their albums becoming a soundtrack for their own life, just when they needed it.
In that particular song, there are a couple of statements that intrigue me, especially after my own fall from the pastorate due to adultery. And I really think it’s applicable to anyone who has sinned against God or struggled with addiction, argued with God, or simply just not felt good enough for God because of their sin.
Sin has a double edged slice to it. For those who love God, we know it is wrong. When we sin, we know it puts us in a bad relationship with him. When we commit those “small sins,” you know, driving too fast, calling the guy in the car next to us an “idiot” when he cuts us off, cheating on a test; it doesn’t bother us so much. But when we really sin, we are overwhelmed with guilt.
The other edge to sin is how appealing it can be. Especially the big ones. Just go back to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden. The fruit on the tree was appealing to them. Knowing they could be like God was appealing to them. It sounded delicious to them.
Frankly, when I got to the point in my life where I first considered adultery, it sounded very appealing. I wanted the woman I was with. She was the answer to my prayers and everything I needed. There are other sins like that. What if you need money badly? Let’s say you work somewhere that you can access it easily and no one will miss small amounts? It’s desirable. It’s delicious to you to think about taking it. What about the abuse of power? You can get your way over other people with manipulation or being a jerk. Using that power is appealing. Tasty.
There’s a line in the song where the heroin addict is feeling something that U2 wrote about:
“Sweet the sin, but bitter the taste in my mouth.”
There’s the rub for the Christian. None of us just wake up one day and say, “Hey! I’m going to commit adultery/embezzle/be power hungry!” No, it breeds in us. It becomes delicious to us over time. And we finally decide to sin and consume that sin that we think will be so tasty to us.
But when we eat it, at first, it might be delicious. But then, for those who know God, we realize the bitterness. There are consequences for all of our actions.
We might be in a place where we think, “I have to commit this sin. Life has left me no choice. My marriage is a joke,” or “I’m broke.” There’s another line in the song that is dealing with something else but is applicable: “I see seven towers, but I only see one way out.”
When we begin focusing on a sin, we think the only way out is to keep pursuing that sin. But if we know Christ, we know that’s not the case. With the redemption of Christ, there’s always a way out. If we are surrounded by a community filled with the love of Christ, we are even more assured that rescue is at hand.
But all too often, we will choose to pursue that sin. The sin that looks so delicious, yet when we bite into it, will only deliver bitterness.
That’s where you may be today. On the path screaming straight toward a sin. Turn from it while you can. Know there are people who are willing to care for you and love you. Look past the deceivingly beautiful veneer of the sin on the outside and see the bitterness that dwells within. Don’t be afraid to pray to God to deliver you and to put you in the path of people who can help.