Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17
Brendan Fraser stars as kind, yet lovelorn, Elliot Richards in the 2000 fantasy-comedy remake film Bedazzled. Like Stanley Ipkiss from The Mask, Elliot desires to be with a woman named Alison Gardner, a co-worker he wishes–but too nervous–to ask out. A chance encounter with the devil (Elizabeth Hurley) has Elliot evaluating his passions when she informs him she will grant him seven wishes for his soul. He agrees, but with each wish, he discovers the devil may be sabotaging his efforts to fulfill his ambitions.
Though I have yet to see the full film, I understand the concept and can compare examples from the film to real life. We all have desires that we wish to be realized, but sometimes, they can lead to trouble or danger. Case in point: among the wishes Elliot makes is to become wealthy and powerful. The devil grants him that wish, but….. as a Colombian drug lord with Alison (his wife, in the wish) despising him and losing her to his co-worker, Raoul.
The idea of Elliot forging a deal with the Devil is similar to what happened in Genesis.
Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. Genesis 3:1-7
The serpent (Satan) deceived Eve into biting the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After her and Adam’s disobedience, they were banished from the Garden of Eden and forced to labor for their livelihood.
We may behave the same way: we trade our comfortable and pleasant situation for a potentially better, or desirable, one. That is not always reality. I find myself pursuing things and people that offer no lasting value. Desserts, for instance. Delicious for the moment, but carries no eternal value.
A verse that pertains to food and determining our values intrigued me, prompting me to meditate on my values:
“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man[a] can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” John 6:26-27
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:32-35
Following Jesus feeding the five thousand, the crowd traveled across Capernaum in seeking Him because they found he was not among them. Jesus knew the people were interested in Him only for his provisions (namely, food), not for understanding the miraculous signs he performed. He instructed them they must seek eternal life the Son of God imparts. The verse from 1 John speaks to me because I do find myself seeking earthly pleasures: money, stable career, boyfriend-girlfriend relationships, and food (including delectable desserts). None of these things are bad intrinsically, but when they become my main focus and lead me to shun God, they turn into idols.
I will have my ambitions happen: a stable career that offers steady income, along with a godly woman with whom to spend my life. For now, I will continue to seek God first and pray He will always lead me in the right direction.