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DR. JIM DENISON, PRESIDENT
OCTOBER 05, 2011

What Tasmanian devils teach us

The Tasmanian devil is in danger, according to this morning’s BBC News. Cancerous tumors that form around their mouths interfere with their ability to feed and eventually prove fatal. (There’s your devotional image for the morning.)

The disease began with a single sick devil in the mid-1990s and spread to the general population. The number of devils living on Tasmania, an island state of Australia, has been reduced nearly in half. The cancer is spread from animal to animal when they bite each other during fights and courtship behavior.

I had no idea Tasmanian devils are so much like humans.

According to this morning’s New York Times, the Taliban in Afghanistan are forcing cell phone companies to shut down their service each evening, threatening to destroy their towers if they don’t comply. NBA players and owners remain so far apart that preseason games have been cancelled and the regular season is now in jeopardy. Ditto for The Simpsons–producers insist that the actors who voice the cartoon characters take a 45% pay cut. The actors have refused, putting the future of TV’s longest-running sitcom in doubt.

Years ago I heard a parable about a man who died and went to heaven. He was about to step into paradise when he stopped and said to his angelic escort, “I have always wondered what hell is like. Before we go to heaven, could I visit there?” The angel was surprised, but consented.

He took the man to the gates of Gehenna and opened the door. The man walked in, expecting to see roaring fires and billowing smoke. Instead he found a banquet table, miles long, heaped to overflowing with every kind of food. Seated around it were millions of emaciated people starving to death. He couldn’t imagine why, until he watched them eat. He saw that boards had been strapped to their arms, so that they could not bend their elbows to bring their hands to their mouths. They would starve for eternity within arm’s reach of food.

“I’ve seen enough,” he told the angel. “Please take me to heaven.” The angel consented–in a flash they stepped through the gates of paradise. The man was shocked to find another banquet table, miles long long, heaped with every kind of food. Seated around it were millions of people with their arms strapped in front of them. But these people looked healthy and joyous. He couldn’t understand why, until he watched them eat.

The people in hell picked up food and struggled with all their might to get it to their mouths but failed. The people in heaven picked up food and fed each other.

Jesus taught us, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Who will you feed this morning?

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