The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Al Henager: It’s not Human Nature

  • It seems to start early, that selfish streak that we call “human nature.”
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  • It seems to start early, that selfish streak that we call “human nature.”
    I remember several years ago when my brother and I were about five and six years old, we went to an Easter Egg hunt. We didn’t have far to go, since we lived right across the street from the football field of Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, where the event was held.
    My mother fetched our Easter baskets down from the attic and made sure we had “fresh” plastic grass in them. As we lined up with the other children on the sideline of the field, an adult explained the rules. Then, someone blew a whistle, and we all set off to gather our treasure.
    We had been hunting eggs a short time, just long enough to have fifteen or twenty candy eggs each, when a boy ran up behind us and grabbed some eggs from each of our baskets. He cackled with laughter as he dropped the candy into his paper bag and twisted the top closed. “That’s how I am getting mine,” he shouted, as he ran away.
    My brother and I were both furious with him. We ran to try to catch him, but he just had too big of a head start. Finally, in frustration, we ran to our mother to tell her what had happened. As we told the story, my brother and I both burst out into tears. They were not so much tears of sadness or of being hurt as they were tears of anger. We told our mother that if we caught that boy, we would beat him up. However, all that my mother would say is, “You boys need to just ‘turn the other cheek.’”
    She was no help!
    As I think back to that experience, I think of one of my wife’s favorite saying: “Life’s not fair. The fair’s in October.”
    One of the reasons that life seems so unfair sometimes, however, is because people are fairly selfish. Certainly the boy stealing Easter Eggs was selfish. However, my brother and I were selfish too. We wanted our eggs for ourselves. We did not want to share with that boy, or with anyone else for that matter. And we would have fought that boy in order to keep what we rightfully thought of as our property.
    “That’s understandable,” you say? Well, Jesus gave us a different way of looking at things.
    In Luke 6: 27- 31, Jesus tells us: “But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Many folks would say, “But that just goes against human nature.” Yes, it does. And that is the point. While that goes against selfish human nature, it is in keeping with the divine nature.
    The only way for us to let the divine nature take over our human nature is if we allow the love of God to enter us through Jesus Christ and empower us to “love one another.”
    That is what Easter is all about.
    (The Rev. Al Henager is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Heber Springs, Arkansas. He can be contacted at alhenager@gmail.com.)
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