GOD NEVER WAS A CHOCOLATE MANUFACTURER, AND NEVER WILL BE. God’s men are always heroes. In Scripture you can trace their giant foot-tracks down the sands of time.
JOHN THE BAPTIST—a man taught and made and sent of God—good old John! Who doesn’t love and admire him? Why, even Herod did. A genuine deficiency of oil and treacle in his composition. He always told the bang flat truth, with emphasis. As he loved, so he warned. He knew not how to fawn. HE WOOED WITH THE SWORD, AND “MEN” LOVED HIM THE BETTER FOR IT. They always do.
The leaders of religion sent to John to ask him the dearly loved question of every Pharisee, “By what authority doest thou these (good) things?” They asked that of Christ Himself, and crucified Him for the doing of them. John’s answer was plain and pungent, “I will tell you what you ask, and more. (John was always liberal!) I? I am nobody, but ye and your masters are a generation of vipers.” A good hot curry, that! John never served his curries with butter sauce, but he was always very liberal with chutney—a man of God—NO SUGAR PLUM NOR CHOCOLATE SOLDIER HE!
Thus also he faced Herod after six months in an underground dungeon, and he a man of “God’s Open-air Mission”. Brought straight in before the king; surrounded with all the might and majesty of camp and court; blinking at the unaccustomed sight of light, but by no means putting blinkers on the truth, he blurted out his hot and thunderous rebuke, “Thou shalt not have that woman to be thy wife.” A whole sermon in one sentence, as easy to remember as impossible to forget. John had preached like that before; like Hugh Latimer, he was not above repeating a good sermon to a king, word for word, when the king had not given sufficient heed to it.
John received the unique distinction of a first-class character from both God and the agent of the devil. Hark to the Savior indulging in an outburst of exquisite sarcasm, “What think ye of John? A reed shaken by the wind? A man clothed in soft raiment?” A Chocolate Christian? (How delicious! The Chocolates were right in front of Jesus at the time—Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, scribes, lawyers, and other hypocrites. How the crowd must have enjoyed it!) “A prophet? Nay, much more than a prophet! Of men born of women there is none greater than John.” And what did the devil’s agent say when, after John’s death, he heard of Jesus? “This,” I tell you, “is John risen from the dead.” What a character! Fancy Jesus being mistaken for anyone! He could have been mistaken only for John. Nobody envies him the well-deserved honour, great though it was, for John was a man—pure granite right through, with not a grain of chocolate in him.
Had John but heard Jesus say, “Ye shall be My witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth,” I very much doubt if Herod’s dungeon, or his soldiers, could have detained him. He surely would have found some means of escape, and run off to preach Christ’s Gospel, if not in the very heart of Africa, then in some more difficult and dangerous place. Yet Christ said, referring to His subsequent gift of the Holy Ghost to every believer, “He that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he,” intimating that even greater powers than those of John are at the disposal of every Christian, and that what John was, each one of us can be—good, straight, bold, unconquerable, heroic.
But here are other foot-tracks—outrageous ones: they can belong only to one man—THAT GRANDEST OF CHRISTIAN PARADOXES—THE LITTLE GIANT PAUL—whose head was as big as his body, and his heart greater than both. Once he thought and treated every Christian as a combination of knave and fool. Then he became one himself. He was called “fool” because his acts were so far beyond the dictates of human reason, and “mad” because of his irresponsible fiery zeal for Christ and men. A first-class scholar, but one who knew how to use scholarship properly; for he put it on the shelf, declaring the wisdom of men to be but folly, and determined to know nothing else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The result—he made the world turn somersault. His life was a perpetual gamble for God. Daily he faced death for Christ. Again and again he stood fearless before crowds thirsting for his blood. He stood before kings and governors and “turned not a hair”. He didn’t so much as flinch before Nero, that vice-president of hell. His sufferings were appalling; read them. He trod in his Master’s footsteps, and so received—God is always just in His favors—the same splendid compliment that Jesus did. “All forsook him.” So there were some Chocolate Christians in those days too. Anyone who forsook Paul must have been made of Chocolate. Doubtless the “CHOCOLATES” excused themselves as they do today. “Who could abide such a fanatical, fiery fool? such an uncompromising character? Nobody could work with him, or he with them!” (What a lie! Jesus did, and they got on well together.) A tactless enthusiast, who considered it his business to tell every man the unvarnished truth regardless of consequences. He won his degree hands down, and without a touch of the spur. A first-class one, too—that of the headman’s axe—next best to that of the cross.
And so the tale goes on. Go where you will through the Scriptures or history, you find that men who really knew God, and didn’t merely say they did, were invariably Paragons of Pluck; Dare-Devil Desperadoes for Jesus; Gamblers for God. “Fools and Madmen,” shout the world and the Chocolates. “Yes, for Christ’s sake,” add the Angels!
Nobly they fought to win the prize,
Climbing the steep ascents of heaven,
Thro’ peril, toil, and pain.
O God, to us let grace be given,
To follow in their train.