Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Always wear sunscreen

Something happens when you hit 30; you look down at your body and wonder, where did all this sagginess come from?  And these lumps and bumps? And my skin!  It’s all wrinkled and discoloured and freckly.  It looks awful!  Ewww, I must be old or something.  What happened?  Well, like most others my age I had a wonderful childhood out enjoying the New Zealand summer, under the hot NZ sun.  In those days we were pretty ignorant of the sun’s destructive power and didn’t even wear sunscreen much of the time.  It was pretty common to come in after 4-5 hours of fun nursing sore red skin.  But now?  Not possible!  We now have a burn time of 7 minutes!  7!  And if you are a whitey like me and you stay out for more than an hour without sunscreen you will be nursing third degree burns.  It’s ridiculous.  Don’t even bother with sunscreen under 30SPF.

So I was saddened when we went holidaying with our extended family last summer that my nieces were enjoying the sun to it’s fullest; talking about how tanned they were getting and how their aim for the day was to get an even brown all over.  Now, granted they have olive skin and it tans a lot better than mine ever did.  They don’t burn and peel like I do but nevertheless they are still getting the same damage I received in my youth.  I’m thinking to myself “girls, don’t do it!  If you carry on this way you’re going to look like me!  Like me!  Noooooooooo!”  But that’s not enough to stop them.  As [teenage] human beings they live entirely in the moment and it’s almost impossible for them to see that they need to do things now which will pay off years in the future.  Just like I couldn’t see either and I live with the not so attractive consequences.

It made me think – isn’t this the way with God’s law too?  God’s law is divided into two parts; the first half of the 10 commandments are concerned with loving God and the second of loving our neighbour as ourselves.  Loving God and obeying those Commandments don’t feel so bad when you break them so even though sins against God are the worst of all and lead to all the others we just can’t see the long term effects of disobeying them – death, eternal punishment – they just seem so far away from us. 

Now sins against our neighbours, well, the consequences are like sunburn; swift and painful.  So when I gossip about my friends and/or family I do it with a degree of fear that if the person concerned ever found out what I had said I’d be so ashamed and a friendship would be damaged or destroyed. 

God gave us the law regarding our neighbours to show us how to love our neighbours as Christ loved us but he also gave it to us to give us that instant pang of guilt which we need; that instant recognition that “wow, I am bad, I need a saviour!”  It’s sometimes hard to see that you’re a sinner when you are breaking the second commandment and worshipping a Jesus you made up in your mind that looks nothing like the Jesus of the Bible but it’s super easy to see you’re a sinner when you get caught out gossiping, stealing, telling lies, or getting angry with the kids and they cry. 

So thank you God for showing us how to love our neighbour, how far we fall short of doing it and for loving us enough to make us right with you when we fail [again and again].  We all have to live with the physical reminders of a misspent youth but praise God we don’t have to live with the spiritual reminders.  Jesus paid it all.

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