Seven pounds.

That’s how much candy our neighbors poured into my son’s pillowcase this Halloween. That’s almost as much as he weighed at birth. That’s enough sugar to eat the enamel off a car, let alone my son’s teeth.

So, although the thought of ingesting seven pounds of sucrose was appealing, he opted to take the candy to a dentist and trade it in for cash — after holding back a few Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, of course.

Okay, let me get this straight … You don a costume, roam the streets, ring doorbells and get free candy from strangers. Then, you haul your haul of Hershey’s down to the dentist to exchange it for free money. Beats workin’.

If I were a dentist, I might want all that candy to stay on the streets for the sake of job security. But as a pastor, I’m all in on the idea of getting sweets off the streets.

Like sugar to the tooth, so is sweet theology to soul. Though easy to swallow, they both cause decay.

The modern theological landscape is a scary scene. A person can ring the doorbell of any celebrity, institution or social media influencer to find some temptingly sweet opinions about God. Predictably, there are a lot more tricks than treats: little, innocent, everyday sweets that rot your soul.

Have you ever tried this tasty little nugget of fluff? “God loves everyone, so go ahead and do whatever you want.” That’s a creative way to take something that’s true about God — that He is love — and coat it with sugar. Truth is, God both loves us and cares deeply about our choices.

Always will. Always has.

It’s no coincidence that the biblical account of humankind’s fall involves a serpent dangling a sugar-coated lie before the woman and man God had created.

“You won’t die.” (Genesis 3:4)

In other words, “Go ahead and do whatever you want. It won’t hurt you.”

That’s as tantalizing as a Hershey Bar on Halloween.

When the woman and her husband swallowed the lie, they didn’t die physically but they did die spiritually. We’ve been suffering from soul-decay ever since. We ingest all sorts of lies about God that do us more harm than good. They taste good but they create massive cavities.

We’ve all experienced that pain.

What if churches followed the lead of dentists and started a sweet buy-back program of our own? Bring in all the sugary nonsense you’ve been getting off the street and let a trusted pastor take if off your hands. We can’t pay cash in exchange but we can give you Christ.

His love is sweet but He doesn’t sugar-coat the truth.

He tells us our spiritual sweet tooth is killing us. He tells us we can’t reverse the destruction sin creates in our lives. He tells us He is only one way to be cavity free. He gives up His life on a Roman cross, handing Himself over to God, saying “Father, Into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

The Father brought Jesus back to life on Easter Sunday, and now Jesus can offer the same kind of death-proof enamel to anyone who comes to Him. He took the bite of death so He could give us the sweetness of life.

Believing in Jesus means we exchange our soul-eroding sin for spiritual wholeness. It’s free but not cheap. Sweet but not sugary. Through Jesus, God buys us back.

Gregg Madsen is the Lead Pastor of Steadfast Gretna. Reach him at gmadsen@steadfastgretna.org.

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