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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Peeping Tom

Not too long ago I was reading a book, a story about a kid who was running around town doing various things, and I thought, "This would make an interesting scene in a movie or on TV." The character was watching various people as they went about their business, catching some of them doing things that they didn't expect anyone else to see (a husband and wife yelling at each other, teenagers smoking, etc.) and it occurred to me that although it's fun to watch someone go about their business in a story on TV (we watch those kinds of stories all the time), I'm not sure I would want to follow someone around like that for real. Who knows what they would do? Do I want to know? What if I saw them going somewhere they shouldn't go, or doing something they shouldn't do? I think maybe part of the reason we enjoy fiction is that it is kind of a "safe" form of voyeurism. We get to spy on someone without them knowing, and in the end, even if they do something bad, it wasn't real. It was "just a story." But if I catch my friend, or my coworker, or my wife or my children doing something I wish I hadn't seen... and don't kid yourself, we all have dirty little secrets and things we hope nobody else ever sees us do... if I catch someone doing something I don't want to know about, then that's a burden I have to carry. It's a responsibility to me. It's not "safe" like watching someone do the same exact thing on a movie screen.

But wait a second... Someone does see it when we do those things. We know that God is omnipresent, and He sees everything, and that frankly is unnerving. So I have two options: I can live my life aware of that, or I can ignore it. I can't constantly be looking over my shoulder to see if God's watching, but I can't just do stuff He clearly doesn't approve of and think He doesn't know about it, either. The solution is to soak up the presence of God instead of resisting Him. "God is watching you" is a recipe for living in fear; being conscious of the presence of God all throughout your day is a recipe for holy living. When we deliberately expose ourselves to the Lord's presence through prayer and worship, we can take that awareness of God's nearness with us through our day; that's is what empowers us to live a holy life. Fear won't motivate us, but God's Love has the power to change us so that we do the right things without coercion.

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