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!
I am a fellow-struggler, a work in progress, who has been guilty of the insanity of doing the same stupid thing over and over again while hoping for a different result. It is our struggles, and admitting them, which makes us relateable. We WON’T “arrive” until we take our last breath, and until then, we will have struggles. My blog is “Struggles”, not “Victories”, on purpose, because all my struggles are my own and all my victories are from Christ-alone. To Him be all glory and honor!
Claps … claps more … rises from seat still clapping … still clapping … looks around … sees everyone else doing the same! 🙂
Thank you Paul!
Such a great truth that all of us have struggles in some area of our life–most by our own choices. Some day we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.
We will indeed!
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
I do not consider any of that ramblings, sir. I am quite reminded that often in times of relationships, we can’t always be serious~sometimes silliness is not only required but encouraged. I love being a Christian, but I don’t want people seeing me as so serious that I can’t have some fun along the way, and Yes, I , too have done many “not so bright” things in my lifetime. We all have. Don, I really love reading your posts. Thank you so much.
Have you ever seen one of those movies about Jesus, where the actor that plays the part of Jesus always has a long face, so serious, never smiles, almost a depressing figure?
I might well be crazy here, but I picture Him as one of those guys who almost always has a smile, who likes to laugh, one of those guys who never brings people down, but who always lifts people up in spirit. Yep, I’m thinking He laughed a lot!
I totally agree and yet, my “raised-in-a-very conservative-church” husband thinks it’s blasphemous to talk that way. 😦
How very sad!
I imagine he did and still does, simply because HE is LOVE and love is something that is joyful!
very well said Don, it is interesting how our struggles can be narrowed down to something so simple for most of us.
Very true, sometimes uncomfortably so…
Simplistic indeed!!! How deep does this well go?? 😉 I guess depth doesn’t really have to do anything with simple! I love your ramblings brother, you can ramble my way anytime you want, I will be ALL ears (or eyes as the case may be!)
And brother, people who have struggled and been through struggles recognize the same in another no matter whether something is simple or not, it comes out in the subject discussed. Depth, brother, maybe simple, but depth none-the-less. I am more thankful than you can imagine for the blessing of the Holy Spirit’s leading the direction (relationship-wise) that He has!!
God bless! Greatly!
You bring up an interesting thing Roland; I wonder if you’d agree with this: “Deep” usually turns out to be simple, whereas “complicated” usually turns out to be shallow.
I totally agree Brother! I have always been a “student” of human nature. For some reason, even in my late teen years, I was always fascinated as to why people act and do what they do, myself included. Over the years, many of my secular jobs, not to mention in ministry, I have witnessed people at their best and at their worst. Even today the television Sue and I watch are more of the unscripted reality type as it is so fascinating how people are in various situations. But Brother Don, this understanding of “Deep” and “complicated” came over a long period of time!
When it finally hit home that God sees the heart and not just what is on the outside and I put the Scripture, “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” I realized as servants who are positioned to help “protect” the sheep from the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” that the best way was not to just look at what is portrayed on the outside, but to listen! Even the devil can come as an “angel of light!” So watching people, studying human nature without condemnation can be a useful tool!!
God bless you brother! Very much!! Prayers to you and your family!
Gos has blessed you with great wisdom Roland! Thank you for being willing to share some with us!
Like pastors who use lots of long words and complicated sentences to state what could be said in 5 words!
Yeah, kinda like that. 🙂
Oh! This was so good, Don! I also had (and still have) a difficult time understanding word problems – but I love what you said. Looking for the real problem is good. Weeding out the things that get in the way…… seeing. I like this. I lost want to do a word problem – not! LOL But I love your perspective….. I want more of Jesus. Thank you