Sunday, February 26, 2017

Those Four Words

     A real accomplishment for Antonio at the age of seven Looking back on it these years later he explained his grown-up understanding to the teen boys in the class he taught.
     “Our assignment in second grade Sunday School class was to memorize and then one at a time recite the Lord’s Prayer in front of the whole congregation at a Sunday morning service.  Standing alone on that stage in front of all those people was scary.  But mom and dad had drilled me for days, and now I had a little bit of confidence.”  
     He continued, “Maybe that’s how you feel when you’re about to take a test at school, but at least you were sitting down, just writing answers on a piece of paper.”  
     The boys smiled and nodded as Antonio went on, “We all thought we knew what we were saying, but now I have lots more in my head and in my heart.  The one biggie I’m going to tell you about today is four words there next to the end. ‘Deliver us from evil.’  Jesus brought it up in the 68 words of the prayer that He taught His disciples one day. 
     “Those four words and especially the word ‘evil’ informs us that evil is real. What is evil?”
     Antonio paused and the boys spoke up . . .
The boys gave some descriptive examples that were too graphic to pass on here.  It was evident that the boys knew from watching TV or going to the movies or looking at the magazines at the grocery store checkout lane.
   “Yes,” Antonio complimented them, “you’ve heard about evil, and you all agree that it is gross and ugly and really bad. But here’s the next thing I want you to assess:  why do some people do what is evil?”
     That didn’t take long to bring up answers from the boys.  Here’s what they     said.
  • It looks exciting.  
  • It looks like a fun thing to try to see if you’re gonna get caught doing it. 
  • It’s what some grown-ups do, so that gets the attention of younger kids.
  • You’ll get a lot of publicity on TV when the law is looking for you.
  • Maybe you can avoid getting caught if you’re really smart.
  • Some of the other people who are doing bad things might admire you, 
  • Maybe they’d take you under their wings and coach you on other snazzy bad things to do.
  • If you’re really bad for a long time they might make a movie of your life, then you're famous.  
  • Maybe you’ll get rich from conning careless people out of their savings.
  • If you get caught breaking the law maybe people will feel sorry and let you off easy in court.

     “OK, guys, that’s a lot of angles to consider.  We all agree that evil is not some imaginary stuff we read about in books of fiction.
     “But here’s the last for today.  Why did anyone do anything bad to begin with?  Why not just automatically want to do good, and succeed when they did good. Why would anyone anywhere want to do evil in their one lifetime on earth?”
     It was quiet for a minute or two and then Lyle spoke up. “Well, the devil made them do it.  I mean, God gave them the choice so they could be good and please Him, or they could choose to do bad and find out what would happen after that.” 
     “You’re right about that last part.  But the devil, Satan, did not force them to disobey God.  He lied to them about it, but God did give them the choice.  God gives each of us the choice of what to do, how to live our lives.  If we are tricked into excitement or fame or fortune by the sneaky devil it is still our decision.  
     “Good discussion, guys.  We will jump back and look at the first part of that famous Lord’s Prayer next week.  Meanwhile if you come up with any other questions or bright ideas jot them down and we’ll deal with it next time.  Thanks for coming!”              + + + 

by Elaine Hardt ©2017