I was a little concerned about the last post (The Image of God and Temptation) wondering if I had simplified the issue to the point where it wouldn’t be taken seriously, for yes, the last post is simplistic.
As I write this, the early returns tell me that I haven’t missed the mark, but what I am writing will not actually post for another 2 ½ hours, so it is entirely possible that by that time there will be comments saying that the post was stupid, that it cannot be that simple, that life is really so very difficult that we can’t possibly make the right choices…
I get that a lot.
It is as though people think I lead a charmed life, that I’ve never struggled, like everything was handed to me on a silver platter; “what do you know? It’s too hard…”
I have lived long enough to know struggle, and I have struggles and challenges and weaknesses and failure just like everyone else. I am neither perfect nor close to it; ask my wife, she’ll tell you that! I am a sinner just like you, I stumble and falter just like you.
And yes it really is that simple.
When I was a boy in school, I was pretty good at arithmetic, but there was one thing I really had trouble with: Word problems; I just couldn’t work them, for the longest time. Then one day, I had an epiphany; most of the information they gave you in word problems was irrelevant, throw it out and you see the problem clearly and then it isn’t as hard as you thought.
Most of the great theological questions are just like word problems were in math class; throw out the irrelevant and the actual issue isn’t as complicated as we thought it was. Most of our struggles as Christians are neither as complicated as we think, nor as difficult as we make them.
When I was a teen, I would often hang out with my friends and sooner or later someone would say, “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do.” This would normally be followed by ideas for something to do, and nearly every time, we ended up doing the stupidest thing that was suggested, something that each and every one us knew to be wrong, and really didn’t want to do.
So why did we do it?
It wasn’t because of this evil world, nor was it because we were totally depraved and incapable of doing the right thing. It also wasn’t because we were stupid or bad kids; the group I used to hang out with grew up to be doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, and professional athletes… no criminals or scoundrels. We did stupid things for one simple reason: Nobody wanted to be the one who wasn’t cool, the one who would be called a… (slang term for less than a man).
Peer pressure, the need to fit in with the gang.
At some point, teenagers are supposed to grow up and become adults and stop doing stupid things just to fit in, and most do. When this happens we go from doing stupid things to fit in, and graduate to only doing silly things to fit in.
Christians are also supposed to grow up too, but this is more than just being adults; we are supposed to grow spiritually into the likeness of Christ. Having said that, I am fairly confident in saying that none of us have arrived at that goal yet; I know that I have a very long way to go, that I am certain of. I can also say with certainty that we won’t arrive at the goal more quickly by giving in to being silly to fit in with the group.
We get there by relationship both with others and with our Lord.
When temptation comes along, of whatever sort, it is very helpful for me and many others as well, to sort out the stuff that isn’t helpful, things like personal bias, self-centeredness, baggage from the past, cultural trends and tradition to find the real equation that needs solving, and most of the time, the equation isn’t as hard as it first appeared to be.
Well, enough of my ramblings; sorry to have kept you from more urgent things; next time, let’s consider tradition, that should be exciting, see you then!