celtic-coffee-mugsIt is said that we are products of our environment. This might be true, but our environments are created in part by the decisions that we make. Our choices define us and each and every choice has consequences. This is not to put a negative connotation on choice, many consequences are good ones. It is only to note that when we make a choice we should not do so lightly.

I have recently made a choice. To you my choice may seem inconsequential, though I hope over time you will come to think otherwise. However, to me the choice is profound. My choice will reverberate through my life impacting other choices.

The choice I have made is to write this column. Over the coming weeks, months and perhaps years you and I will become acquainted. We will share stories and we will become invested in the decisions that we make.

One such story I would like to share is of a friend who visited a Christian Bookstore. While browsing through the various trinkets for sale my friend was surprised when they saw the following message on a coffee mug, “If you worship me, all will be yours” – Luke 4:7.

An enticing message to be sure and one that has choice embedded in it. The message as shown on the coffee mug implies that if we worship God we will receive everything! A quick survey of the society we live in shows that this attitude is prevalent. Many people worship hoping to receive riches.

Still others worship in another way when they give themselves over to the desires of consumerism and the cult of celebrity. Make no mistake, it is worship of another kind. These issues, among others, compete for our attention. They force us to make choices about how we spend our time and how we use our resources. Thinking this way is dangerous as it puts the focus on ourselves and our own needs and desires.

This does not mean that God does not want good things for us. God does. However, what we think is good for us, may not be what God thinks is good for us. This can be a hard reality to overcome.

Now, if you are having second thoughts and are wondering about the message on the coffee mug then rest easy for you are in good company. Closer inspection of this passage reveals that the speaker is not to be trusted. Scripture speaks about choice often and never more poignantly than in the temptation narratives. Jesus was tempted, just as we are, with the promise of an easy life. We can take comfort knowing that Jesus faced the same types of temptations as we do and that he prevailed.

When Jesus was offered all things he responded, “Worship God and serve him only.” A reminder that it is not about what we receive, but what we give to God.

We are given the freedom to make our own decisions with the knowledge of how God would have us respond. I look forward to the many choices we will make together. I am prayerful that we will avoid the choices that create bad coffee mugs.

Choice, Promises and Coffee Mugs was originally published in the Northumberland Today on August 19, 2015.