Like a Moth to a Flame
Donald Robert Perry Marquis wrote a poem based on an imaginary conversation between a rat and a moth. The rat asked some very hard questions like, “Why do moths fly into candles and other bright lights and risk being fried to death?” The answer is very illuminating. Let’s listen to the moth:
We get bored with routine, and crave beauty and excitement... Fire is beautiful, and we know that if we get too close it will kill us and what does that matter... It is better to be happy for a moment and be burned up with beauty than to live a long time and be bored all the while.
Wow. Sounds like the moth’s idea of excitement and beauty was pretty narrow-minded. Even though he had wings to fly, his vision of reality was locked up tight. What the moth saw as glamorous the rat saw as deadly. A dangerous addiction to distraction. Sound familiar? We see it all around us. We’re drawn to temptation like a moth is drawn to fire. And it’s getting worse. That’s just what Jesus is telling us in today’s reading.
Jesus was speaking privately with His disciples. They wanted to know some signs that would signal His return to the earth and the end of the world. Let’s read just a part of Jesus’ reply:
Jesus told them, "Don’t let anyone mislead you. For many will come in My name saying, I am the Messiah. They will lead many astray. And wars will break out near and far ... The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold." Matthew 24:4-7, 12
Now that definitely sounds familiar. How many different earthquakes have we seen in the news lately? How many starving faces have we looked into on our TV sets? And the heartless massacres of foreign countries are now making their way into our own local headlines, at the hands of our own kids and teens.
And what about “love”? The other day, while watching one of those “wedding shows,” I was stunned when the bride and groom pledged to be together not “as long as we both shall live” but, “as long as we both shall love.” A lifetime commitment signed in erasable ink. Scary. Our TVs are cluttered with shallow beauty, elusive excitement and recreational sex. Bigger moths calling smaller moths to come and sit by the fire.
In the story of Alice In Wonderland, Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" The Cat answered, "That depends a good deal on where you want to get.” Our decisions this very day determine where we will be tomorrow. And before long, our tomorrows turn into forever.
But I like the way Jesus ends our reading for today. The good news is…
But those who endure to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally, the end will come. Matthew 24:13, 14
It’s true that never before has sin been so acceptable and love been so conditional. But the upside is that never before has Grace been more available.
God is there for you. Because of the Cross. Because of the empty tomb. All because of Jesus.
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