As the saying goes, “You can pick your friends. You can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” It’s a boundary issue, apparently.
Boundaries are everywhere. Doors. Locks. Red lights. That miniature arm rest between airplane seats. Deadlines for filing taxes, completing work projects, applying for loans. Sales with “limit 2 per customer”. Signs with right turn on red after stop, no entry, wrong way, stop, exit only, members only, and wait here for next teller. We’ve been learning boundaries since we were kids:
- Stop hitting your brother!
- Put that down!
- Don’t touch that!
- Go to your room!
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze!
- Form a single-file line.
- You can’t shave the neighbor’s cat!
We even heard warnings when we came close to breaching a boundary:
- If I have to stop this car….
- Wait until your father gets home.
- And every time our mother called us by our full names.
Forming single-file lines in first grade seemed a ridiculous idea to me. I figured out later it was a skill I would need at the bank, the airport, the grocery store check-out line, driving, fast-food restaurants, and when I renew my drivers license.
In Genesis 2:16-17, God tells man of his first boundary:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
We blew through that like it wasn’t even there. This first example clearly demonstrates man’s indifference to the boundaries God gives us. We violated the very first boundary, and we’ve been doing it ever since. Maybe we wouldn’t have so many difficulties if we paused long enough to question whether we are breaking another boundary.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
God respects boundaries. He does not push, shove, manipulate or force His way into our hearts. He instilled in us the importance of boundaries, and maintains His respect of those boundaries. And He is not pleased when we breach the boundaries of others.
Perhaps Aretha Franklin’s hit song should be from God’s perspective: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to… Me.