David Pressgrove: Taking on choices
In the 2005 remake of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the climax of the movie takes place when Willy Wonka offers his factory to Charlie on one condition: Charlie leave his family in order to live in the factory.
Willy is taken aback when Charlie chooses his family over the factory.
Willy had just offered Charlie a child’s dream — to be in charge of a magical factory with the Oompa Loompas as friends for life.
To Willy, who despised everything that wasn’t his factory, it seemed like the easy choice. But Charlie had a different perspective. He tells Willy, “All of the chocolate in the world couldn’t keep me from leaving my family.”
Three of four Gospel writers introduce us to Jesus’ ministry with a situation where he faces a challenge similar to Charlie’s.
This, of course, is the account of Jesus being led by the Holy Spirit out to the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights of fasting.
At the end of those days we read that Jesus is tempted. The devil’s temptations could have been as tantalizing to Jesus as Willy’s offer to Charlie to spend the rest of his life swimming in chocolate rivers.
Jesus is first challenged by the devil to turn a stone into food. Certainly, after 40 days of fasting, Jesus was starving and could use some grub.
Then the devil tempts Jesus to prove who he is by trying to convince him to jump from a high place and reminds him that if he truly was God that scripture says angels would catch him.
Satan’s attempt to get Jesus to reveal himself could have solved a lot of groundwork for the Savior-to-be. Before he even started rounding up disciples he would have already proven he was God.
Finally, the devil offers another shortcut for Jesus.
He offers Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” (Matt. 4:8).
All Jesus had to do was simply bow down to the devil and it was all his — another easy out for Jesus. Who needs to go speak to the people when he could just sit on the mountaintop and admire what had been given to him?
Thankfully, Jesus knows his mission. He rebukes his tempter, saying, “Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matt. 4:10)
We see from Jesus’ experience that the easy choice isn’t always the right choice. Certainly our choices won’t come with a miniature devil on one shoulder and a similar-sized angel on the other.
It’s not that simple. The word “devil” comes from the Greek word Diabolos, which means “the splitter.” Simply put, the devil hopes to “split” us from God.
The devil offered Jesus options that seemed easy to say yes to. Who doesn’t want good food, recognition and property?
My prayer this year is that we can seek God in our choices. It’s not easy because, as we see in this account, the devil is a master in subtleness and deception.
My prayer is that through scripture knowledge, good mentors and actively building our relationship with Him, we can all discern between what will split us or strengthen us.