Recently, our church partook in ViBES, our version of vacation bible school. As with most other VBS events, it was a summer week dedicated to learning more about God and seeking his presence. The theme this year was “Into the Wild” where our world was compared to the wilderness, and Jesus was revealed as the one who could help us navigate through it. It is an apt metaphor. The nature of our sin-filled society can certainly be described as wild. Despite us referring to it as civilization, at times, there seems to be very little civil about it. Danger seems to lurk around every corner. No, it is usually not lions, tigers, or bears that we have to fear, but the peril is real all the same. Sin represents the primary hazard in our modern wilderness. Sometimes, it’s the wrongdoing of others that puts us at risk. Many times it’s our own sinfulness that represents the greatest threat to us. Either way, sin is what should keep us on high alert as we stroll through the wild.
Thankfully, God has provided for us as he always does. With the sacrifice of His Son, God made it possible for us to be forgiven for our sins. Because of that, it is no longer inevitable that we will be caught unaware and die as sin’s victim. Our ViBES memory verse makes that much clear with regard to the truth revealed in the Bible.
But these were written that you maybe believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have Life in his name. – John 20:31By believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died and was resurrected for us, we can be absolved of sin and claim everlasting life with the Father. God didn’t just stop there. Not only did he use Jesus’ death to provide a defense for us against the perils of the wild. He also provided for us a guide that can help us navigate and find our way to safety. That guide is the Holy Spirit.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. - John 16:13By leaning on the Holy Spirit, we can live the kind of lives God desires for us, and no matter how savage the world around us might be, we can be confident that there will always be a refuge for us.
Jesus didn’t just die for us though. He lived for us too, as an example of how we should live our lives. He was part of human society, the metaphorical wilderness that we’re discussing. What’s interesting is that he also spent time in a very literal wilderness as well. The story of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) shows us that despite the differences in the life that Jesus lived compared to what we experience, there is still plenty we can learn from the example He set. We look around our world today and temptation seems to exist everywhere. We want to live righteously, but something always seems to be nearby ready to pull us back into the wild. When Jesus spent time in the wilderness he was tempted more directly than many of us may ever experience. The Devil went to him and tried to find a way to bring him down, to make him forget who he was and his purpose. Lucky for us, Jesus stood strong. He was resolute and determined to stay committed to fulfilling the Father’s will. He left the wilderness victorious. He triumphed over his trials in the wild.
In all things, Jesus should be our example. We should know that God has a purpose and a desire for us. If we focus on fulfilling that purpose, then we need not worry about the temptations and distractions that exist to draw us away from the beaten path. If we heed our guide and remain mindful of our purpose, our trip through the wild won’t seem so harrowing. Instead, it will be just like a safari, a safe journey through an unsafe land. The difference being that with a safari, the journey to the wild is the purpose, but for us, it’s just the route we’re taking on our way to paradise.