It’s finally here. The week that the Discovery Channel brings us marathon programming meant to help us better understand sharks.
As I write this, a great white shark the size of a Winnebago is chomping a seal in half while guys in windbreakers film on a rocking boat. My favorite part of shark week is people with Ph.D.s in marine biology make questionable decisions involving boats, sharks and cameras. Every time a diver dons a seal costume to swim in shark-infested waters for a close-up I shake my head, yell at the television and wonder why some thrive on living so close to danger?
Marine life is not the only danger that humanity seems to relish getting too close to. When I watch photographers and biologists diving into the ocean to give sharks an awkward-side-hug in the name of science, it reminds me of the “close calls” I’ve had with sin because I’ve ignored the warnings and tell-tale signs that I was getting close to trouble. What do I mean by this? I’m talking about the occasion of sin.
An “occasion of sin” is any person or situation that we know could lead us into sin. It’s not sin in itself, but it’s a set of conditions when we know we will be especially vulnerable.
For example, if we know we are prone to gossip we should avoid the people that are always ready to dish the latest in the lunch line. If we struggle with drinking, we should stick to parties where we know there’ll be soft drinks – not spiked solo cups.
If we are serious about not sinning, avoiding the occasion of sin is a critical first step.
This is easier said than done. Avoiding the occasion of sin means discerning what our biggest struggles are and actively avoiding them through changing our actions and habits. Hebrews 12:1-2 challenges us to “rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”
This week the Discovery channel will show us hours of people diving into shark-infested waters to get as close as they can to big jaws and sharp teeth. And of course . . . I will watch . . . amazed that anyone thinks swimming with sharks is a good idea, no matter how mis-understood the marine biologists try to tell us they are.
When it comes to the people, places and situations that place us in the occasion of sin, don’t live every week like it’s shark week. Be aware of the safety of your soul and your relationship with God – don’t test how close you can get to sin.
Live every day with heaven in mind. After all, you never know which Shark Week is going to be your last Shark Week.