Two scenes from today.
I was sitting in the modern Kaiser Wilhelm Kirke trying to pray. While I was doing this, there was a group in front of us with a young man speaking quietly to them in German. I did not pay attention. I was trying to shut them out so I could pray. After some time, and some prayers, I noted that the same group were now in the back of the church looking at the “Madonna of Stalingrad”. I became angry. For this church was built by those of faith, and it is now, within my lifetime, treated as a museum.
Walking down the K’damm we found a chocolatiers. My wife went in and looked at the pastries, thinking about how hard it is to make them: she did such when she was in her teenage years. I stayed outside. I was hungry, and I would have bought food that I could not tolerate.
What I do know is that we cannot rely on the heritage of our forefathers. There are many within the reactionary movement or dark enlightenment who look to tradition, with good reason. But the traditions of the West rest on Christ, and without them we are just another bunch of civilised pagans.
1I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.
6Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
We will be tempted. I was: I am. Frequently. But if we are honest about our temptations — then we can do something about them, even if it is not going into the street so you don’t buy those damn chocolates. For what we do defines us. If we do that which is evil, we are demonstrating that Christ is not in us.
This has always troubled me, for I am quite aware that I can do evil, and that some temptations are more pleasurable than chocolate. The ones that Paul mentions: idolatry or it’s fouls sister ideology, sexual immorality, and believing that we can test Christ by putting ourselves in positions where we will require his interventions to survive, forgetting that enough trouble will occur in any person’s life.
Nor should we try to be that which we are not. We are male and female: we all have limits. None of us are perfect, none of us are divine — and to worship the image of the divine in us is a particularly prideful form of idolatry though it is euphemistically called self esteem.
The Old Testament is given to us as much as warnings as a series of examples. For every Hezekiah there is a Ahab: for every Miriam a Jezebel. As such, it is suitable for both training in righteousness and correction of evil
One of the things that dying churches do is start ignoring it. Paul does not give us that option. The forefathers of the Jewish nation died in the desert despite being taken through the red sea. If we do not reform and turn to Christ, we will be cut off, and the wreckage of our churches will be mocked by the very persons who seduced us into following the narratives of this world, thus rejecting Christ.
But no temptation is ours alone. ANd in prayer, we can resist them.