'The desires for other things'

Faith & Inspiration

Philosopher Hannah Arendt is said to have coined the phrase "banality of evil" upon her shock at seeing Nazi Adolf Eichmann at his trial and observing how average and normal he appeared.

I think it is like this in the spiritual world in general: The face of evil will not always be like the Joker in the Batman movies. So do not look for it there. The evil that God decries and that He will finally punish with hell fire will be something far more commonplace and sympathetic, so that the majority of people do not recognize it.

I notice that as Jesus tells the parable of the sower, when He gets to the part about the seed thrown among thorns, representing one of the three kinds of people who will reject the gospel, here is the description he gives of the reason for their falling away into deepest darkness:

"… the desires for other things enter in …" (Mark 4:19).

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One is shocked by the sheer banality of this disclosed cause of perdition. One expected something ghastly-like murder or child molestation. But heaven help us, "the desires for other things"? Are we to take you literally, Lord? Do you mean that we err to our final undoing by indulging "the desires for other things"?

And now that we've come to it, what "other things" do you mean, Lord? Is the matter really so black and white? Is it Your Kingdom on one side of the divide, and everything else in the kingdom of darkness?

I am a person who likes to know where I stand. If Jesus says "the desires for other things" is a red flag I need to watch in my life, I am not willing to water it down to the level of backslidden interpretation. I am served notice that there are only two kingdoms-God's and the world's. "The desires for other things" will destroy me if I do not watch it. The appeal of Jesus is to avoid the seductive snare of the supposedly innocuous love of the world.

These words of Christ are a useful and practical plumb line, a check on our affections, by which we can regularly align ourselves: "Why am I doing, or saying, or buying, or allowing such and such? Is my desire the glory of God? Or is it 'the desires for other things'?"

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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