When we were young, most of us assuredly dreamed of being rich and famous. In our naivete, we thought that the world would prostrate itself at our feet. The dream of the easy life lingers before each and every one of us, tantalising us with its possibilities. And it’s not difficult to understand why. If you look at all of the vapid, vacuous celebrities out there, they don’t really seem to struggle or fight for anything. Compared to your own life of struggle and pain, their world seems to be one of ease and luxury. Who wouldn’t want the same? The problem is that most of us never see the price that those celebritards pay for their success. It is far greater than you can imagine. The price is, quite literally, your soul – especially if you are a woman. To get that life, you have to “take the ticket”. And taking the ticket will destroy you.
What does the temptation to “take the ticket” look like? That’s easy. The answer is right there in the Good Book, told in several different ways:
4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.— Matthew 4:1-11, English Standard Version
This passage shows you the precise pattern of temptation. It always starts in a relatively innocuous way. Nobody ever requires you to sell your soul immediately. The Devil himself doesn’t walk up to you with horns and hooves, surrounded by the stench of sulphur (yes, my American friends, that IS how you spell it), and offer you a golden fiddle against your soul.
The method and manner of your corruption will be far more subtle than that.
At some point in your life, someone will give you an opportunity that seems too good to pass up. The cost to you will be small. You will simply have to make a small moral compromise. The reward, on the other hand, will be relatively high.
Suppose you are a struggling musician playing Christian rock music. A record company executive might listen to your demo tape and say:
“Nice hook, but you need to change the tune so it’s less heavy and more commercial. Do that, and I can get this in front of the biggest producer in the business tomorrow.”
Thrilled by the possibility, you make the change. Next thing you know, you’re playing your demo in front of some of the best engineers and producers in the world.
The producer might then listen to it and tell you:
“Cool song – but you spend too much time singing about Jesus. You’ll turn people off. Tone it down. Talk about yourself more and him less. Do that, and I’ll get this in front of the CEO of the biggest rock label in the world the same day.”
You might be a little taken aback, but you do as he says. And next thing you know, you’re signed on to a record label. They give you a manager and an agent.
Your manager then tells you:
“Listen, I can get you a gig opening for the biggest band in the business right now. Go along to this club. You’ll get a chance to meet your idols in person. Tell the doorman that you know me. And, hey, RELAX! Leave the religious shtick at home. Just go with the flow, man. Fit in. You want them to like you.“
Ecstatic at the possibility of opening for your favourite musicians, you leap at the chance. You show up at the club. You enter… and you see women in clothes that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination, serving drinks to men who leer at them like wolves grinning at pieces of meat.
A bit dazed, you wander over to a table where you get to meet your rock idols. The bassist sits you down and says:
“Hey, kid, I heard your demo tape. Goddamn, but you can play!!! Listen, we’ll get you on tour easily enough. But first, let’s have some FUN! Ever tried cocaine?!“
You try to resist, but you’re keen to fit in and be one of the boys – just like your manager told you. What could it hurt? After all, these guys seem like down-to-earth types. So you end up snorting a line of coke.
And on it goes.
You tour the world. Women scream your name in ecstasy in the crowd – and in your bed. You’ve never had an easier time getting laid – women literally throw themselves at you. Men regard your fame with envy. You have all the money you could possibly want. Your world is one long crazy haze of playing on stage, drinking backstage, banging groupies on the bus and in the hotel, and shooting up or snorting drugs in truck-stop bathrooms.
Then one day you drive by a church – and the full weight of what you have done comes crashing down upon you. You got everything you wanted. But you feel empty, hollow, and miserable inside. The love and joy that you once held in your heart is gone. In its place is… nothing.
Nothing but pain, loneliness, and a gnawing dread deep in your bowels that people will see you for the Crimson Idol that you really are.
Look how it all started – with one small moral compromise.
Taking the Ticket
That example has played out countless times throughout human history. It happens every single day in many different ways and forms. And it all comes from accepting lies and bending to them.
You could accept the lies of this world and live the rest of your life in luxury and comfort. It’s really easy to do. All you have to do is lie to yourself, your family, your friends, and everyone else around you. If you do this, money, power, and women will be yours for the taking. You will have everything that your heart desires. Your life will be one of ease and comfort. Men will want to be you and women will want to be with you.
But you won’t be happy. Just ask people who did take the ticket:
That’s the easy way – the way of the golden ticket.
What’s the other way?
The other way involves refusing to bend or kneel, except to the One True God and to His Son, Our Lord and King, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. It involves telling the truth – no matter what that costs you. That way involves standing resolute, immovable, unyielding, against the hordes that batter against the gates, screaming and shouting at you for your imagined “sins”.
It means literally telling the ENTIRE WORLD and everything in it, “no, YOU move!”
And yeah, that’s bloody terrifying.
Power and Responsibility
Most of us have heard the phrase that inspired this post before. Those of a certain age probably remember that line from the first Spiderman movie, starring Tobey Maguire. You know the one:
It’s a sappy, maudlin, and honestly rather ham-fisted rendition of the core idea. But that one clip has proven its supreme effectiveness as a meme.
“But Didact, you notoriously obtuse wanker”, I hear you say, “what on Earth does this have to do with ME?!?! I HAVE no great power whatsoever! I don’t have ANY responsibility! I’m just a mere mortal man that the world shits on every single day!!!”
My friend, you are totally and utterly WRONG. You just don’t know it yet. THAT is the reason why you are driven to despair.
You have awesome power. It is so great and astonishing that it terrifies the people around us who do not comprehend it. And – to quote another great line from another great superhero movie – “people always fear what they don’t understand“.
For you have one choice – the only real choice that any of us has.
It is the choice to bend the knee, not to lies, but to TRUTH.
Truth Will Not Bend
The problem with sticking to the truth is that doing so is costly. Extremely so, in fact. Telling the truth means that you can’t lie to yourself. You can’t pretend to be anything other than what you are – gifted with great talents on the one hand, but weak, broken, and miserable on the other. You can’t lie to others about yourself – and you can’t lie to them to make them feel better.
This will cost you family, friends, jobs, opportunities, and wealth. You will be hated and reviled. People will curse your name and despise you.
But – if you are consistent and refuse to bend, refuse to break, you will find respect, honour, and friendship in very unlikely places.
You see, this is a broken and Fallen world, full of weak and despairing souls. But it also contains decent, honourable, righteous, kind, and strong people. Those people are few in number, but they instinctively seek out their own kind. They will find you, one way or another. And they will help you.
So do not despair and do not break. Do not lose hope, and do not lose faith. Gather strength where and when you can. Love your life and beautify it through commitment to what is true. Let that love of life shine through in all that you say and do. Be kind to others, forgive them when they transgress against you – especially when they do that – and walk in peace wherever you can.
But hate lies, and hate liars, at all times. And never, ever take the ticket, for doing so will destroy you.