Some things are permissible but not beneficial

I was saddened deeply several years ago when control was lost of a car full of local high school students.  They were killed in the impact resulting from a local popular activity; hill topping.  When a car travels at a high rate of speed over a hill with a steep drop on the other side, a momentary feeling of “lightness” accelerates the pulse of most breathing human beings.  The rush, the danger of becoming airborne, can be exhilarating.  Those students did not enjoy their high for more than a few seconds before their ecstasy soured into terror as their vehicle slammed into the ground and rolled several times. The car and its human cargo was demolished.  For days the sorrow was not just visible, but audible and palpable. At the very least no student would risk death by hill topping again for at least two or three years until the memory had faded—I thought.

hilltopping

I was stunned just a few weeks later when the local paper reported a single car accident resulting from several students losing control of their vehicle following topping a hill at a high rate of speed.  It was the same hill their own classmates had perished on.  How could they forget such intense sorrow so quickly? It appears to be a common human malady.

Another quality group of people living in another part of the world was told by someone who deeply loved them, “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” Not everyone listened then; or now.  Like the previously mentioned students, we know how dangerous something is, and do it anyway.

Who has not said to themselves, “It won’t happen to me.  That’s different.  I’m better, smarter, stronger, wiser, more disciplined than they were.”?

God said through the prophet Moses, “Do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead.”  Will we fail to learn from the mistakes of others?  Do we really believe we are smarter than God?

 

This Halloween will we sincerely believe there is nothing wrong with these things for us?  Will we believe that, “It’s different?  Nothing bad is going to happen to me.”?   Maybe nothing bad will happen.  Is it worth the risk?

 

What will you do this Halloween? Will God be honored with your actions?  Will people be drawn to Jesus by what you say and do, or will they become more comfortable and curious about subjects and practices the Bible warns us to stay away from for our own physical and spiritual health?

Among the great number of books authored by C.S. Lewis is the highly provocative “The Screwtape Letters”.  In it the profound Englishman had the devil brief his nephew, Wormwood, on the subtleties and techniques of tempting people.  The goal, he counsels, is not wickedness but indifference.  Satan cautions his nephew to keep the prospect, the patient, comfortable at all costs.  If he should become concerned about anything of importance, encourage him to think about his luncheon plans; not to worry, it could induce indigestion.  And then this definitive job description:  “I, the devil, will always see to it that there are bad people.  Your job, my dear Wormwood, is to provide me with the people who do not care.”

May we care enough for ourselves, our God, and our friends to plan a fun Halloween celebration this year that honors God and draws us and those we care about closer to Him.

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