the 40 days of Lent recall the 40 days of Jesus' being tempted in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13). the temptations are enthralling story-telling, tapping into narrative threads that seem to be at the core of our being.
in the parable The Grand Inquisitor, Dostoevsky suggests that maybe the devil wasn't so much tempting Jesus. Instead, the parable suggests the devil was presenting Jesus with the different options he could take to be a Messiah, and making him choose one.
i think about this in relation to myself & the 3rd temptation that is told in the stories attributed to Luke & Matthew. the devil is said to have tempted Jesus to worship the devil in return for all the kingdoms of the world. Control, power, global domination - these are offered in return for worship.
Hebrews 4:15 states that Jesus is one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are. i confess i want a Jesus who can provide me with control, the kind of power that CNN covers with breaking news, the kind of global domination that empire and businesses strive for.
if I am honest with myself, this is not just for me - I really want "successful" Christian leaders. i want women & men who have control, exhibit power and can embody dominion over a whole host of tasks and skills. let's be honest - who wants "losers" to be their spiritual shepherd, who wants misfits to be trailguides for our spiritual journey.
You never trust a millionaire
Quoting the sermon on the mount
I used to think I was not like them
But I'm beginning to have my doubts
My doubts about it
this past sunday, the preacher spoke of the word awful, the two almost opposing meanings of that word:
- Extremely bad or unpleasant
- Commanding awe
i am too often tempted by the extremely bad or unpleasant equation - absolute power in return for worshipping a life that is counter to the image we are made, control that is truly evil in that I choose a path that is counter to my creation.
when I let myself go to that still & quiet place, to the desert w/in me, I know that the power Jesus choose was somethings that commands awe - that mashup of emotions of reverence, respect, dread, and wonder inspired by authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might.
I am beginning to have my doubts, doubts about myself, that I am willing to head out to that desert in my life, that the millionaire in me holds the control, that I have answered the devil's temptation. this Lent, I will try to head out to that desert - and choose the power of authority, genius, great beauty, sublimity, or might.