Now I’m not one who normally likes to fit the typical mould. I stand out in a crowd more often than I blend in. I’d rather make my own picture than coloring one that someone else creates for me. But there are times when it’s necessary to color inside the lines. As a parent I try to teach my children to slow down and follow the boundaries of the pictures they are coloring. I like it when I see the picture of the teddy bear with two colors of brown, a darker for the fur on the body and a lighter color for the belly. It just looks like they took more care and time with it. The same is true with life. When we carefully take the time to shade our lives and color inside the lines, we begin to see a picture far better than anything we could draw ourselves.
So how do we know when it’s ok to color outside the lines and when we should stay in the lines? This week at Living Word Galena, we discussed something very similar. We discussed right and wrong. We dove into a topic that some like to color outside the lines and others feel it’s critical to stay in them. The topic we covered was one of life and death and the meaning of both terms. We looked at who has the ability to color this picture and how important are the lines anyway?
It all started with a trip back to Genesis. You see, we operate with a fundamental starting point that says all life is sacred and all life comes from God. This is the picture HE painted for us. God drew these lines, not in the sands along the beach that can be redrawn with every incoming wave. But these lines are etched in the stone of time. The Bible says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” Life starts and ends with God.
When the Bible says that God created man in His image, it means that we carry the authority and likeness and power and uniqueness of God. He buried inside of us the power that created the world. This is why Paul says the all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us. Paul knew that life wasn’t about what we make it to be. It wasn’t about how we draw the lines. Life was about how God established the boundaries. Other lines in creation move. The seas come in and out on the shore. The sun rises and sets. The earth rotates and spins. But mankind, although we won’t admit it, is somewhat constant. Our will shifts for sure, but we don’t really change that much.
If you look at Genesis 3, you’ll see how constant we’ve remained. Our natural tendency is to color outside the lines. Eve took the fruit. Adam ate it willingly. Israel walked away from God demanding new leaders. The disciples closest to Jesus turned their backs on him for their own ideals. We’re no different. We may choose different colors but we have been trying to redraw the picture of God’s sovereignty since the Fall. The problem is – this isn’t our picture to draw! We don’t have the right to change the lines on this canvas. It’s not a kid’s coloring book. It’s life, death, eternity that hangs in the balance.
No we don’t have to color the picture the same as everyone else. We don’t have to use the same color pallet and imagine every aspect of life the same as our neighbor. We don’t have to believe the same things or act the same way in every situation. But we do not have the right to change the picture. When God made man in his image, it wasn’t just Adam and Eve. It was all of mankind. That means that the elderly, the criminal, the enemy and even the unborn are all created in the image of God. These are lines we cannot move. These are boundaries we have no right to change or even stretch.
The church is now given a choice. We can sit idly by and let the world around us redraw the pictures in sand that God chiseled in the foundation stones of time. Or we can stand, right here and right now on what we claim to believe. Faith isn’t for the weak. It’s not for the passive. It’s not for the timid. Faith is active. It’s alive. It’s trusting. It stands firm. It grows where it’s planted. Go ahead, color outside the lines. But don’t redraw the picture. Make it look like you. Use your favorite colors. Shade it or not. But the lines are there for a reason. Color inside them and this picture is beautiful and right and true. Color outside the lines and well, it’s just a mess of chaos – the very thing God took care of in the six days of creation. The lines are there for order, it’s time we cherish these boundaries and live the life he created us to live.