Cole's favorite thing to hold while he sleeps at night is a Teddy Bear. It's cute, it's cuddly, but it's also misleading. Before I explain, I want to tell you about the origin of the Teddy Bear.
In November 1902, President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt went to Mississippi at the invitation of Mississippi's Governor Andrew H. Longino. The purpose of the trip was to take part in a bear hunt. There were several other hunters on that trip, and all of them had killed a bear - except Roosevelt.
In order to help him "save face" and leave the hunt satisfied, several of Roosevelt's attendants located a small bear cub and tied it to a tree. They notified Roosevelt of what they had done and suggested he go over and shoot the bear. Angered and disgusted by what they had done, Roosevelt refused to kill the bear, declaring that such actions were unsportsmanlike.
Clifford Berryman of The Washington Post heard about the story and drew a political cartoon depicting Roosevelt's refusal to shoot the cub. Morris Michtom saw Berryman's cartoon and came up with an idea.
After contacting Roosevelt, explaining what he wanted to do and getting permission to use Roosevelt's name, Michtom created a small stuffed bear and named it "Teddy's Bear." They met with immediate popularity, and Teddy Bears remain popular to this day.
Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with having a Teddy Bear. If I believed that, Cole wouldn't sleep with one each night. But it got me thinking: Bears are wild animals. Bears are dangerous. Bears are capable of maiming and killing.
Yet what has been done to the bear as it relates to Teddy Bears? It has been minimized. It has been "cutesiefied" (I just made that word up). It has been repackaged as a child's toy. Something that is extremely dangerous has now been made into something that is snuggly and brings comfort.
Kind of like sin. Sin is dangerous. Sin separates us from God. Sin caused Jesus to die on the cross.
But what do we often do with sin? We minimize it. We "cutesiefy" it. We repackage (rationalize) it. We deny its true danger in our lives and we hold on to it as if it is snuggly and brings us comfort.
Maybe it does bring us comfort - for a while. But cubs grow into bears. And sin, "when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:15).
No one should ever approach a bear in the wild. Nor should anyone ever take such a minimalistic view of sin. Both are dangerous. And both can get you hurt, or even killed.
Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville.
His column appears every other week in Sunday Life.