Last week I posted a devotion on temptation (http://www.sarahsundin.com/which-lion/), in preparation for a Sunday school lesson on the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness for fourth- and fifth-graders. I had no idea how much those kids would teach me.
Our class meets in a multi-purpose room, the children are divided into small groups with adult leaders, and we gather together for the lesson. I started by roaming the room with a large bowl of candy. The good stuff. M&Ms and Milky Ways and Reese’s. Didn’t take long to get their attention. I promised everyone one piece of candy after the lesson. Excitement – and a whisper of disappointment at having to wait.
I asked them to open their Bibles to Matthew 4, pretended to forget my Bible, and disappeared into an adjoining room – after asking an adult to watch the candy. But he was my accomplice, a young man with an engaging way with kids and amazing acting skills. Let’s call him…Geoff.
“Hey, you guys! She’s gone,” Geoff said. “Who wants candy?”
Within a minute, a loud roar built in the room. When I returned, Geoff had retreated to the stage with the candy bowl. Half the kids rushed him, laughing, screaming, grabbing at the candy. The other half remained seated. Wow.
Order was restored. Then I repeated my promise – everyone could have one piece after the lesson unless they’d already taken one, and those who had remained seated would receive two pieces. Groans of dismay and exclamations of joy, but they accepted my decision. One little girl looked forlorn. “I only went because my friends did.” That was a sad and unexpected part of the lesson. Following the crowd can lead you into trouble.
I think all were humbled – as I was – by how vulnerable we are to temptation. How enticing the chocolate-scented voice that says, “Why wait? You can have it now,” and “All your friends are doing it,” and “If you don’t, you’ll miss out on all the fun.” But it’s not real chocolate – it’s a carob-saccharine-soy byproduct. Recognize that voice and stand against it.