man in gray crew neck t-shirt and gray shorts sitting on basketball court

I don’t like crowds any more, meaning being in them or following them. Following a crowd is not a Cheatham trait. When as a child, I wanted to follow the current crowd, Mom would say, “If everyone is jumping into the fire, are you going to jump with them?” She knew how to curb our want by wielding her parental power, thus teaching us to eventually to curb it ourselves. For this reason, I do not play pickle ball.

Present within us all is the need for validation. The need goes beyond a small child seeking praise from his mother for doing some task that pleases her, like homework and emptying the trash. Validation means we wish to be both affirmed and seen by others and takes on its various forms seeking significance, recognition, ambition, achievement, notoriety and glory, caring nothing for the moral judgments of good and bad. I think most sins and gods are birthed in our desire for validation.

Instructive for Christians are the similarities between Adam and Eve’s temptation in the garden and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Good was Satan’s temptation of choice. For Adam and Eve, was it not good to want knowledge, especially to discern between good and evil and to be like God, to be equal? And who wouldn’t want to validate themselves by turning stones into bread to eat, to receive glory through authority, to prove who you are with a few angels by your side?

Who followed and who didn’t? Who yielded? Who jumped into the fire?

The first Adam, tempted with perceived good, said yes. The second Adam, Jesus, said no and became holy, set apart from the crowd to serve God’s will. And herein lies life’s question, the Christian’s question, mankind’s question in every age and time when tempted with perceived good—should I? Every age has its god, every man a tool to make or use. Maybe they are one and the same. Maybe the only difference between our gods and God is should I.

I have been guilty of saying yes when no was the answer. And when man says yes to the possible and fails to answer his should, when validation becomes our god and our tools the means, where are we but eating from the tree of knowledge. But good and evil and should are a matter of the heart, aren’t they?

There is fatigue in our gods. All seems so overwhelming. But I am not a fatalist. A faithful Christian rests in the knowledge God is in charge. This I believe. This I affirm. For to each who has received the Holy Spirit, to each who believes, each must answer his should in word and deed, in the gifts God gave him, in living a Spirit-filled life so the world will know God. Only by the Holy Spirit are we led, only what is true shall we follow.

“You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led” (1 Corinthians 12:2, NKJV).


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