Teptation, Compassion and Soggy Cereal

31 07 2007

Copyright 2007 Kelsey Hough.  All rights reserved.

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“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” ~Hebrews 4:15

I once had a Sunday school teacher try to explain this verse to a class I was in. We were all very young at the time, so the concept of a “high priest” was strange and not particularly interesting. If she’d been comparing Jesus to a Ninja Turtle or Mickey Mouse, we might have perked up, but it still would have been a challenge to keep our short attention spans engaged for long.

“Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins,” she said to the class “and He also came so that He’d know what it’s like to live here on earth, so that He’d know what it’s like to … to … eat cereal.”  God left heaven so He could eat breakfast cereal with a bunch of sinners? Since He’s God – the Creator and all – why didn’t He just make His own cereal? The only conclusions I could come up with, were either God had a fetish for Shredded Wheat, or my teacher was stranger than she looked.

Temptation is Tempting

“[He] was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Temptation is tempting; this may sound as deep as the bumper sticker on the back of your car, but when temptation comes knocking it’s hard to say no.  Because if you didn’t want it, there wouldn’t be a temptation.

When temptation hits, you may relate to Jesus, being offered all the kingdoms of the world, everything you want seems to be within your grasp, but then you realize who’s offering you this proposition, and you’ll be paying for it through the nose.  Do the ends justify the means?  The little man on your shoulder – in his cheesy devil costume – whispers something sly into your ear.  You want it so badly, and the thought of letting it go forever seems so horrible, but you take a deep breath, and say no to your little red pal.

I said no to the little man on my shoulder recently.  It was hard, as well as painful, and it honestly still is to a degree.  Letting go can hurt.  But despite this, I’ve gained something important — I’ve learned a little bit more about the beauty of compassion.

Compassion: A Beautiful Thing

It’s a wonderful thing that God not only understands the process of saying no to temptation, He also understands the pain and the heartache that is sometimes inevitable when you’re forced to say no to something you truly want.  The temptations and hardships Christ encountered while on earth extended far beyond a bowl of soggy cereal; He’s been offered the “easy way” out, He’s been tempted with everything He desired most, but He said no.  He doesn’t just know mentally that it would be difficult, He knows from firsthand experience; He’s felt the pain.

This — what my Sunday school teacher tried to present so many years ago – is truly amazing.  It’s amazing that God Almighty would be able to sympathize with sinners in their hour of need.  May we all seek to show the same level of compassion we’ve been shown, to others.

“DIVINE MASTER, grant that I my not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” -St. Francis of Assisi

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Christians No Different than the World

25 07 2007

Christians no different

“The problem with America’s Christianity today is that, for the most part, it doesn’t exist! What passes for Christianity is instead an anemic, spineless, diluted substitute without convictions or principle.

“No wonder so many unbelievers see nothing in the church that would draw them to a life-transforming faith in Christ.  No wonder so many political leaders ignore the church.  No wonder that despite some 300,000 evangelical churches, scores and hundreds of television and radio ministries, and millions of professing Christians, our nation is still on a collision course with calamity!  What America needs is real Christianity!  The kind of Christianity that changed the course of history.”

-excerpted from “Christians No Different than the World” by Chuck Baldwin

Read the full article here:

When the Gospel Isn’t the Gospel

21 07 2007

By Kelsey Hough

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‘Tis the Season for popsicles, camping trips and seasonally ineffective street evangelists.

I was plodding along, completely engrossed in my own thoughts, when a little, gray haired lady – her arms filled with grocery bags – flagged me down.  In a quiet voice, she leaned in closer to me, and with big eyes and a somewhat crazed smile plastered on her face, she informed me there was something she needed to give me.

As she rummaged around in her brown, winter coat, I half expected her to pull out a plastic fork, or an old gumball wrapper, or even, something to help me contact the aliens with.  But instead of ET’s home number, her hand emerged with two small cards – each about the size of a business card.  She handed them proudly over to me.  Cutesy Christian poems were printed on them in flowery fonts; nope, I wouldn’t be helping ET phone home today.

       When the Message Isn’t the Gospel

“Santa Claus,” she said his name with all the inflections a good storyteller would use when the zombies had emerged and were now wreaking havoc on society, “leads straight to the mall which leads to bankruptcy and depression.”  She looked up so she could stare right into my eyes.  It reminded me of the way a door-to-door salesman would stare at you while he tried to convince you of your overwhelming need for the latest and greatest vacuum cleaner.  I smiled back uncomfortably.

After an awkward silence, she apparently decided I was now ripe for the gospel, and added triumphantly, “But Jesus leads to peace.  Santa has deceived us all, we’ve all ended up at the mall, but you don’t have to stay there, because you can choose to either follow Santa or Jesus.”

The street evangelist looked satisfied, and abruptly walked away without another word, and I continued on my way (ironically, I was on my way to spend the afternoon at the mall) thinking how her “gospel” was enough to make me feel turned off from Christianity. I didn’t tell the lady she was preaching to the choir, because the “Christianity” she was selling was nothing I was willing to defend or own.

I’m sure the woman I ran into was very well meaning, but because the “gospel” she shared with me wasn’t the good news of Christ crucified for sinners, it didn’t make any sense and it wasn’t even seasonally fitting, it was still a turn off.

Ready to Give an Account

The Gospel itself does offend, but it heartbreaking when it’s not the Gospel that’s offending people but someone’s inability to communicate it clearly and effectively. To her benefit, after our run-in I went home and practiced going over all the main points of the Gospel, and it paid off, because only a few days later, while at church, I was asked to explain the Gospel in thirty seconds or less.

You never know when you might need to give an account for the hope that is in you, and because of this 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” What would you say if you had to give a reason for the hope that is in you?  If you were suddenly asked, would you be able to present the Gospel clearly and accurately, or — like the woman who talked with me — would it not even be recognizable as the Gospel?