Leaning further into Luke
5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Luke 4:5-7
When I was a kid in the winter we would play, “King of the Hill.” The premise is simple. One person is on the top of the snow mound and all the others try to knock that person off so she or he can be the single one at the top. That game says a lot about our culture. As adults we play a version of that game. We notice who has the corner office. We notice the vacation pictures of others. We notice who got a new car or looks like they are a step ahead of us. Parker Palmer says of this temptation that Jesus is being offered “power, not with or for others, but always power over something or someone.” That kind of power is always hovering and hanging in the air we breathe calling out to us.
Pause…when have you found yourself trying to cling to the top of some hill for some prize?
In what ways does power, the ability to make something happen, cause you to act in less than healthy ways?
Here is a truth about power – it has health and unhealth – and a thin line between the two (or perhaps a tight rope). I know as a pastor I am afforded a certain power that comes in the form of words and sermons. I have moments…not my proudest…when those words have caused wounds and hurt and harm. This not only happened, but it also still happens. I have power as a parent. I have power when I drive my car. What other places do you sense that you have power? Can you think of moments when that power helped and times it caused harm? Both are true, which is why I think the gospels call this a, “temptation”.
I encourage and invite you today to reflect on moments when you made use of power over and when you felt powerless. For example I had feelings of powerlessness on the playground as a child, in adolescents, in the early days of my career, or waiting for the vaccine. I have heard stories from members when they got older and are told we must move into a facility. Hold this alongside the one who knows what it is like to try to discern when and where and how to use power.
Prayer: God of source and strength stir in my heart this day, guide my feet as I run this race, and let my words be in symphony with You. Amen.