Text: Matthew 4:1-11

Betwixt the Scylla of Counterfeit Revival and the Charybdis of Consumerism
UCBC Last Quarter of 2022


In ancient Greek mythology, Scylla and Charybdis were the names of two sea monsters situated on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Italy. The fearful monsters were located close enough to each other that they posed an inescapable threat to sailors who sought to pass between them. Charybdis, in that area, is actually a whirlpool but is not big enough to be a monster. The rocky shoals nearby may have inspired the thought of the monster Scylla. Although these mythical beings are debunked, they have real-life explanations. (Leroy Seat via Leslie Hill’s email to PJP)

Many have been so intent on escaping Charybdis that they have sailed straight into the jaws of Scylla. But I repeatedly assert that we must always be careful not to flee one extreme only to fall into the opposite extreme. The Challenge: Avoiding Charybdis meant passing too closely to Scylla and vice versa. Accordingly, contemporary Christians are confronted with the challenge of having to pass between the Scylla of Counterfeit Revival and the Charybdis of Consumerism.


Matthew 4 narrates the event when Christ was tempted by the devil, Satan. However, though tempted three times, Christ victoriously defeated and overcame all these temptations. This event portrays the impeccability of Christ—his sinlessness. Christ is all-powerful, holy, and worthy of praise.

First temptation: verse 3, hunger (essentials). Second temptation: verse 5, to jump off the temple (protection and safety). Third temptation: verse 8, the devil offered him material possessions of the world and glory (the very definition of success today). It is in this story where we will see anchor ourselves.

Main Idea:

We need to find the balance to sail straight and steer away from Scylla and Charybdis. How? Illustration: Myanmar Motorcycle. We need to find focus on Christ, his vision for our church, and the present leading of the Holy Spirit.

Christ exemplified this balanced life. Luke 2:40 “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.” And John 1:14, Christ has the fullness of grace and truth. Without balance, leaning too much on truth leads to legalism (just a set of rules); on the other, extreme grace leads to antinomianism or “a license to commit sin.” Christ saw We must find balance.

As a church, where are we right now? Show the three waves. Wave 2 is after church development, recalibration, and preparation. We now enter the program demonstration where we focus ourselves on implementations, collaboration, and spiritual renovation. Many big words in there.

Putting it in layman’s terms. Both in the concept of escaping Scylla and Charybdis and maintaining balance not to fall on a cliff, we need to realize our past (history), present (essence), and future (vision). (1) Past, looking behind keeps us from moving ahead and prone to danger. A balance of Present and Future, but the future must affect our present. James KA Smith wrote that (1) Understanding the Past, (2) Facing the Future, and (3) Living Faithfully in the Present are the things we need to realize as Christians.


The North Star is the anchor of the northern sky. A landmark, or sky marker, helps those who follow it determine direction as it glows brightly to guide and lead toward a purposeful destination. It also has a symbolic meaning, for the North Star depicts a beacon of inspiration and hope to many. Fret not, our North Star is Christ. Our hope is in Christ. Let us apply our vision in this last quarter of the year.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
September 25, 2022


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