In the world of archery, you need several things - a bow, an arrow, a target, and a pointy hat with a feather coming out of it.
The goal of the archer is to use the bow to launch an arrow into the target’s center while looking good in a stylish hat. The closer to the center, the better the shot. When an arrow misses the center, the term used is “sinning”. The archer will say that he ‘sinned to the left” or “sinned to the right”. Using this information, he will adjust his technique before shooting the next arrow - hoping that the next one will hit the mark.
The term “sin” has been stolen by Christians to refer to the idea of missing the mark with God. It is meant to show us that we need to adjust our lives back to God.
To understand how we should view sin, we first remember that everyone was created by God to be His children. When Adam sinned, mankind had to leave God’s presence because we were no longer in His target area. And this is why God hates Sin.
Psalm 11:5 - The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.
(Note: God does not hate the person, but He hates the violence within the person because it moves the child He loves farther from His arms).
So He gave instructions - He told us how to choose to move toward Him.
Just as there were two trees in the garden - through scripture, we see a choice in location that symbolized our choice to move towards God or away from God. When the Bible talks about someone going East (such as Able - Gen. 4:16) or Babylon (which was East of the promised land where Tower of Babel was - Gen. 11:1-9), it is saying that people are ‘sinning’ away from God. But when it talks about the promised land or Mt. Zion, it is talking about people choosing to move towards God.
The ‘target’ we are aiming for is God, Himself.
But there is so much that distracts our flight. It is impossible for us to hit the center without help - we are broken arrows. No one can do it.
Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
This is why we need Jesus - who knows the way to the target and He never misses. He not only helps us ‘shoot the arrows’, He helps us consider how we have ‘sinned’ and how we can correct so that we shoot better next time.
The key is - we need to shoot again (In Christian terms, this is called ‘Repenting’).
The lie from Satan is that since we missed the mark (‘sinned’), we are no longer good enough for God and need to just give up. The truth - You can never miss the mark so badly that Gods cannot bring you back.
When you give up, you are actually saying that you will accept the path of the last arrow you sent. It may start little off the mark, but the longer it ‘sins’ the farther from the mark it gets. You cannot continue on that path and hit the mark. You have to stop, and reshoot again from the beginning (repent).
Jeremiah 8:6 - I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle
Acts 2:38 - Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
We will miss the mark again and again - but when we get up ‘repent’ and trust God - we will get closer every day because we will be more like Christ every day (the one who never misses).
Helping each other do this is discipleship.
A few years ago, I went to a conference with a group of young adults. During one of the evening sessions, we were entertained by a painter with a huge canvas. Since watching paint dry is not the most exciting activity, the artist kept our attention with loud music and low lighting while he used his hands to create with glow in the dark paints. It looked like a mess that a child would make trying to paint with his fingers. Finally, as the song came to a rousing end, he stepped back and spun the picture so that it was right-side-up and we saw that, what looked like a chaotic explosion of paints was in reality an upside down portrait of Jesus.
What a perfect picture of our lives. Absolute messes until we meet the artists that turns us right-side-up so that we see who we were made to be - Children of the Living God.
In Scripture, we see that God created mankind in His image (Gen. 1:27) and we find out that He also takes a personal interest in each one of us.
Psalm 139:14 - For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Matthew 10:30 - And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
I Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you
Not only did He personally create you - He has made a plan for your life.
Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Psalm 139:16 - Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
And He made a plan for your eternity
Romans 8:17 - Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Revelation 3:5 - The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.
God was written a story and it is all about you and His love for you.
But not everyone is part of this story.
Revelation 20:15 - Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
This is because God did not just want to plan to tell your story without giving you a choice for an outcome. He wanted you to choose to be a part of this story. He does not want robots, He wants children to love. This is why He placed the two different trees in the garden with Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:16-17). Adam had a choice to remain in God’s story, or to leave the story. By choosing to stay, he was showing his love for God.
When Adam ate the fruit, He was leaving God’s story to try and create his own story - a task that was too hard for him, and so it became a mess. God had to write a new chapter in our stories to show us the journey back to him. He put Himself into the story to show us the way.
John 10:4 - When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice
John 10:7 - Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.
John 14:6 - Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
But we must choose to follow Him. - Joshua 24:15; John 3:16; Matthew 7:13-14 (when you find it - show it. This is Discipleship
In the book, War and Peace, there is a scene in which a young man is sent to war and finds himself in his first battle. Up to this point, because of his position in life, he had been forced to do work as a politician and a businessman, but in everything he did he felt anxious and depressed. However, when he entered the battleground and the bullets began flying around his head, he somehow felt peace. He knew he was where he was supposed to be and living the life he was meant to live.
We were all created to be Children of God living our best lives in His presence.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well”
Philippians 4:7 - And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
Yet, so many us lack peace. We are anxious, depressed, and shaken because we do not know who we are or where we belong.
Scripture shows us why we feel broken and lack personal peace.
Genesis starts with the story of the first man and woman and how God created them to be perfect and at peace. We know that they were at peace because they were naked and did not feel shame (Genesis 2:25). They had nothing to hide.
Because of their peace, they were unified as a couple - the two became one (Gen. 2:24). They were connected and whole because they were living right in the presence of the God who created them.
However, in the next chapter of their lives, we see Adam push his wife away. After they had eaten the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6), this perfect peace was lost. They felt shame (Gen. 3:7) and when Adam was faced with the consequences of his mistake, he blamed both the woman for giving him the fruit and God for giving him the woman (Gen. 3:12).
Peace was shattered.
Mankind is now fighting against God, each other, and even himself, to try and regain that peace. Anxiety, shame, regret, depression, hate, and other negative emotions now fill our brains and keep us from remembering who we truly - children of God.
Ephesians 2:3 - Among them we too all previously lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the rest.
Notice that we were “Children of Wrath” - meaning that our very nature caused God anger. We were made in HIs image, but because of the darkness of sin, we no longer reflected God’s glory. This meant that if God came near us, His holiness (light) would destroy our unholiness (darkness). We are separated from God because of our Sinful nature - and this makes Him angry.
Ephesians 2:4 - But God, being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).
Jesus became that bridge between God and man - to transform our darkness into light so that we could again be near God, become again the person we were created to be, and remove God’s anger - thereby creating peace.
Isaiah 9:6 tells us that one of Christ’s titles will be the prince of peace: “For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
When Jesus was born, peace was declared for the world: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)
Before he died on the cross, Jesus promised that the peace would remain for those that follow Him: “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” (John 14:27)
Scripture teaches that our Human (sinful) nature is at odds with our Spiritual nature (Romans 7:21-25). Jesus bridges these two natures and brings them into alignment with God’s nature - again, this brings peace.
Ephesians 2:14 - For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in his flesh the hostility, which is the Law composed of commandments expressed in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two one new person, in this way establishing peace.
But some choose to hold onto their darkness.
Knowing that the world had become incredibly broken and the people would be afraid to release the chains that they had become accustomed to, Jesus gave a warning to those that are trying to share peace. He said: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34).
What he was telling us was that although He was bringing TRUE peace, many people will become upset that they have to release their chains that they will fight back. God’s TRUE PEACE will create division between those that have chosen Christ’s path and those that are afraid to step into the light.
it is not easy to lead people to peace because, as with Adam in the garden, it exposes all things we have been hiding and shows our nakedness (Gen. 3:10-11). But, as with Adam, God cannot cover us with His eternal garments (Gen. 3:21) until we remove the temporary leaves (Gen. 3:7) we have tried to hide behind.
So, that begs the question - if we will face opposition when we try to share the peace of God with those that are hiding in the darkness - why should we try? Why not just let them remain in the darkness if that is what they want?
There are several reasons we need to share peace with as many people as we can.
First - Because Jesus commanded it. Matthew 28:19-20 says: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Second - Because there are people you care about that are hurting. You have experienced the pain of a life without peace - and you see others drowning in their own anxiety. You know the way to peace, it would be cruel not to share what you have found. Jude 1:21-23 says: “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”
Third - This lack of peace does not just make life hard for those without peace, but it leads to death. By sharing your peace with others you may be saving their enteral soul. Romans 6:23 says: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
Fourth - Because peace leads to peace. As you lead others to peace, it releases the tension and increases the peace you yourself will feel. Jesus said in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
How do your share your peace?
First, ask God to give peace to those you love. It is important to remember that the peace you have is not YOUR peace - it is GOD’s peace. There are attributes that we as people take for granted, that are gifts from God and that can be taken back at any time. Paul called these attributes the “Fruits of the Spirit”. They are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23)
Start by praying that God will put His peace in the heart of the other person.
Then, share the peace you have found with them. Like a candle, light their life with the flame you possess. It will not diminish your world, but it will light up their’s.
Share your life and set the example that helps them walk out of the darkness and into the light of God’s love - even when they feel awkward and exposed. Be there for them.
James said: “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:18)
By doing this, you have begun the process of Discipleship.