I recently stood on a mountain peak in the Alps, an area referred to as Obersalzberg. Stretching out before me, in the valley below, was the historic city of Salzburg. Nearby, nestled in another valley, lay Berchtesgaden and Konigsee. I stood over a small square stone. One side marked the boundary of Germany. The other side marked the boundary of Austria.
As I scanned the landscape that fell away beneath my feet in the shrouded distance, I felt as if I could see forever, that I might be standing on the top of the world. It was an impressive sight.
Standing at this awe-inspiring spot, I was reminded of the Scripture that tells of Jesus’ temptation. He was taken to a similar high point where the nations of the world seemed to stretch out at his feet. It was there that the devil made his offer, “All these things will I give you if you bow down and worship me.” Jesus answered him, “Be gone Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matthew 4:9-10)
On the mountain cliffs, not far away, I could see the outline of a building. The Kelsteinhaus, more commonly known as the Eagles Nest, was a home built as a gift for Adolf Hitler on his 50th birthday. It is reported that Hitler seldom came to the Kelsteinhaus.
But it was in this region, in the mountains above Berchtesgaden and Salzburg, that Hitler completed his writing of “Mein Kampf,” the massive document that outlined his beliefs and his plans. His quest for world domination varied very little from what he included in that early manuscript.
In 1942 Hitler said, “There are so many links between Obersalzberg and me. So many things were born there … I spent there the finest hours of my life … It was there that all my great projects were conceived and ripened.” The outcome is well-documented in history.
He would follow an agenda of manipulation, force, war, terror, brutality and racism. His agenda left in its wake more than 6 million murdered Jews and at least another 50 million dead worldwide.
Almost a century ago, in 1925, Adolf Hitler looked off into the awe-inspiring distance from this same mountain vista and experienced a similar temptation to the temptation Jesus faced. Unlike Jesus, he accepted the devil’s offer.
In a way, every man and woman must make a similar choice. We may face the temptation in our work, our schools, our government and our homes. We are tempted to enforce our own will upon those around us by duplicity and deceit, by force, anger and violence. We are tempted to arrogance, self-will and prejudice.
We all must choose whether we will bow down to the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13), the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), or whether we will choose, as Jesus did, to worship the Lord our God and serve him only.
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. Visit www.tinsleycenter.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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