By Jason Moore
Pastor, New Creation Presbyterian Church
A few months ago, the staff and interns of New Creation were gathered for our monthly meeting. As a group of younger men, we often find ourselves veering off track, chasing rabbits or going off on tangents. We might have some attention deficit issues. ;)
We started talking about peanut allergies. We discussed how a parent can safely give a peanut to one child, but must protect another child from the threat the peanut poses. How can one little legume be a delight to one person and a danger to another? One of the guys said, “That would be a great sermon illustration.” I asked him to flesh out his thought. It was brilliant.
A good parent often knows what her child needs, and what might be dangerous for that child. A good parent spares her child from unnecessary danger. Remember, there is nothing inherently wrong with the peanut. The peanut tastes good and is nutritious. But, for the child with an allergy that peanut poses a very real threat.
What does the child think of the peanut prohibition? It may seem like the parent is depriving him, being unfair or is uncaring because she won’t give him what he wants. He thinks, “What harm could a peanut do?” We may look at God and wonder why he didn’t give us what we wanted. We may see the success of a rival at work and become jealous of their good fortune. We may see our neighbor going on vacation and envy the financial freedom they have to do so. We may see our friends find love, get married, have babies and live happily ever after while we become bitter because our most intimate relationships have not gone well. We may see earthly blessing come to people who are not very good or very nice and wonder why God is holding out on us (after all, we deserve those good things).
That is a good sermon illustration. Maybe something that is good for one person will not be good for you. Maybe your own temptations and weaknesses could make a “good” thing dangerous. Maybe you and I have our own “spiritual peanut allergy.” Maybe God knows that there are “good” things that could hurt us. Would success, wealth, comfort, approval, influence, popularity or power actually hinder us and stifle our relationship with God?
Maybe God keeps us from having “good” things in order to spare us from some danger we cannot foresee. Maybe God takes things or keeps things from us to teach us something we need to know about him or about ourselves. Maybe he keeps us from having something we treasure to show us that our true treasure is in Jesus Christ. If I’ve learned one truth in this life it is this: the things of this world will always fail to fill our deepest longings. But, knowing that you are fully forgiven, absolutely accepted, and lavishly loved by your Father in heavenwill answer the deepest needs and desires of your heart and soul. There is hope and healing in relationship with God. Earthly blessing is great. I’ve been blessed with many “good” things in this life, but the longer I live the more I’m convinced that what I need is more Jesus. It is Jesus who makes the good things good. Every good gift comes from him.
God gives gifts, and protects us from the dangers of “spiritual peanuts.” Is God showing you grace by protecting you from something “good” that you want or feel you need? Maybe you feel hurt or angry that he’s holding out on you. Consider the peanut. Consider that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Meditate on God’s Word, remember his promises, pray, and connect with your Father in heaven. He’s a good parent who knows what’s best for you. He will spare you from “spiritual peanuts”.