Trash TV and Junk Food
So, essentially this post will be about how Jesus did stuff better than I do. Shock. But on a slightly more serious level, it’s about my struggle in choosing the deeper joys I’d receive by being disciplined over the immediate gratification I can receive in the here and now. No, it’s not a post about sex.
It’s Ash Wednesday. For Christians it’s traditionally a day during which some might choose to recognise the beginning of the 40 days which Jesus spent in the desert with no food whilst being tempted by the enemy… and not so traditionally, it’s a day where lots of people give up something they like and then complain about giving it up for 40 days.
I spent some time this evening, looking at the different accounts of the temptation of Jesus over the 40 days in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. It was in the account of Luke, where I stopped and took in two of the verses in a way, which I’d previously overlooked. Firstly:
“And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.” (Luke 4:5 ESV)
I paused. Before continuing to read the story. Jesus, of course does not succumb to the temptation despite being weak, tired and hungry. He doesn’t succumb because He knows the glory that is set before Him. Had He taken the devil up on this momentary pleasure, my life wouldn’t currently be redeemed by His blood. But He didn’t, and it is.
I begun to think about what I do for that ‘quick fix’ rather than looking at the bigger picture, and two things immediately sprung to mind. Fast food. One of my guilty pleasures… The fact there’s a chicken(?) shop near enough next door to my house doesn’t help matters. Nor does the fact that I really do just love a Chinese takeaway. But seriously, if I was to spend a little more time preparing a healthier home cooked meal, obviously my body would be a lot more appreciative, as would the scales, my skin and probably my bank balance. Secondly, still junk, but this time of the TV variety. I was once told that good is the biggest enemy of best. Now don’t get me wrong, Made in Chelsea, Don’t tell the Bride and Cheaters make for some good TV… Okay maybe not good. Maybe just another guilty pleasure. But nonetheless, it’s so easy for me to come home from work, log into 4oD or switch on the TV, bite into a Big Mac and put my feet up. It’s all so instant and so now. I don’t have to think about it. Another translation of the passage above says “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.” (Luke 4:5 NIV84) and it just got me thinking.
The enemy will tempt us when we’re vulnerable, take a moment that could be used for something better and make ourselves find contentment in the satisfactory instead.
Now don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not saying that watching TV or eating chicken chow mein are bad things. Not at all. But if that’s the option I took every day, I’d be out of shape physically, spiritually… and probably mentally. Now this might be stating the obvious, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll recognise that, mapping out the bigger picture is all well and good, you can see your God-given dreams and can’t wait to get there, but taking the small steps to get ever closer to it are a lot more difficult. That’s where the battle is. In the journey. We’re not just going to get handed our destiny on a plate. Perhaps Jesus would have still died on a cross only to rise again three days later and beat death even if He said yes to the devil in that instant of opportunity. But it definitely would have taken longer.
God’s given me dreams…most of which, I’m going to have to work at to make happen, in the hubbub of everyday life, in the after work tired evenings, in the moments where I’d prefer to switch off. But I can’t switch off forever. Otherwise these dreams will only ever be held and will never be carried out. Or, they’ll be carried out by someone else who wasn’t as keen to procrastinate. So this post is a start of what I’m giving up for lent. I’m giving up making excuses for not doing what I’m supposed to and I’m giving up the 'moment of time’ gratification for something more sustaining and hopefully more God glorifying. And that doesn’t mean no TV and no junk food. I’m not being a legalist, it just means using more of the opportunities than I waste and being more disciplined with my time. Which leads me to my final point, the other verse, which sprung out for me in Luke’s account of the story:
“And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13 ESV)
The Bible reminds us here that when we try to do good, evil is always with us. And so today’s victory doesn’t guarantee tomorrow’s. We’ve got to deny ourselves daily, surrender what we do have to Him, and in doing so, take small steps in becoming who we were born to be.