Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Pastor's Story

Some years ago, I walked into my office after a Sunday morning service
to find a sandwich bag on my desk containing three chocolate brownies.
Some thoughtful and anonymous person who knew my love for chocolate had
placed them there, along with a piece of paper that had a short story
written on it I immediately sat down and began eating the first brownie
as I read the following story:

Two teenagers asked their father if they could go the theater to watch a
movie that all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about
the movie on the Internet, he denied their request.

"Aw dad, why not?" they complained. "It's rated PG-13, and we're both
older than thirteen!"

Dad replied: "Because that movie contains nudity and portrays
immorality as being normal and acceptable behavior.

"But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! That's what our
friends who've seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and
those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film! It's based on a
true story and good triumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming
themes like courage and self-sacrifice. Even the movie review websites
say that!"

"My answer is 'no,' and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay
home tonight, invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the
good videos we have in our home collection. But you will not go and
watch that film. End of discussion."

The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped
down on the couch. As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the
sounds of their father preparing something in the kitchen. They soon
recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one
of the teenagers said to the other, "Dad must be feeling guilty, and now
he's going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we
can soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and
persuade him to let us go to that movie after all."

About that time I began eating the second brownie from the sandwich bag
and wondered if there was some connection to the brownies I was eating
and the brownies in the story.. I kept reading...

The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate
of warm brownies which he offered to his kids. They each took one. Then
their father said, "Before you eat, I want to tell you something: I love
you both so much. "The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing
glances. Dad was softening.

"That is why I've made these brownies with the very best ingredients.
I've made them from scratch. Most of the ingredients are even organic.
The best organic flour. The best free-range eggs. The best organic
sugar. Premium vanilla and chocolate."

The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a
little impatient with their dad's long speech.

"But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I
added that is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from
our own back yard. But you needn't worry, because I only added the
tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies. The amount of the
portion is practically insignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let
me know what you think."

"Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before
we eat?"

"Why? The portion I added was so small, just a teaspoonful. You won't
even taste it."

"Come on, dad; just tell us what that ingredient is."
"Don't worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients."
"Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is poop."

I immediately stopped chewing that second brownie and I spit it out into
the waste basket by my desk. I continued reading, now fearful of the
paragraphs that still remained.

Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began
inspecting their fingers with horror.

"DAD! Why did you do that? You've tortured us by making us smell those
brownies cooking for the last half hour, and now you tell us that you
added dog poop! We can't eat these brownies!"

"Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of
the ingredients. It won't hurt you. It's been cooked right along with
the other ingredients. You won't even taste it. It has the same
consistency as the brownies. Go ahead and eat!"

"No, Dad...NEVER!"

"And that is the same reason I won't allow you to go watch that movie.
You won't tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so why should you
tolerate a little immorality in your movies? We pray that God will not
lead us unto temptation, so how can we in good conscience entertain
ourselves with something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds
that will lead us into temptation long after we first see it?

I discarded what remained of the second brownie as well as the entire
untouched third brownie. What had been irresistible a minute go had
become detestable. And only because of the very slim chance that what I
was eating was slightly polluted. (Surely it wasn't...but I couldn't
convince myself.)

What a good lesson about purity! Why do we tolerate any sin? On the day
of the Passover, the Israelites were commanded to remove every bit of
leaven from their homes. Sin is like leaven - a little bit leavens the
whole lump (1Corinthians 5:6, 7), faith and sin, don't mix.

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