Leaning further into Luke
9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11 and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. Luke 4:9-13
We all have that desire to be special, set apart or what Parker Palmer calls the temptation, “to be spectacular”. I will confess I keep ribbons I won for running in a race. Why? It isn’t like it was for winning the Boston marathon. They are in my bottom dresser drawer, but I can’t bring myself to throw them away. That ribbon is a tactile and tangible thing I can touch and remember I was recognized for finishing first in a local Turkey Trot one year. I could say the same thing about my diploma or the file I keep of certificates.
We live in this tension between realizing life is about more than me, but that I am here participating too. We want occasionally for the spotlight to shine on us and other times that light can be to blazing hot and blinds us. Or we can end up craving the light so much that we will do anything to get it. When our kids were toddlers, we had a parenting saying, “Negative attention is still attention.” That is sometimes our kids would act out just because they knew that could get a response. I am not sure we outgrow that especially in an age of polarization and social media that gives a platform for us to say things for the sake of getting “Likes” or “Retweets”.
To know that we are loved not because of our awards or framed documents, but because God’s love is unconditional and unceasing. Yet, our society doesn’t work that way. That is part of what all three temptations are about. The world works one way: get your bread while you can because there might not be enough; use your influence and power because someone else might knock you off the hill; and don’t share the spotlight because you should have it your way. (My thanks to Burger King for that slogan).
These temptations are as recent as our lives and the world we inhabit. To hold these close and carefully, because too often guilt is the first (and only) emotion around temptations. But what if, what we have explored this week, could be a truth that sets us free? Free to realize who and whose we are.
I pray today you will ponder prayerfully the ways this story of Jesus’ temptations is true in your story. And may we do so knowing that God isn’t judging us, but inviting us to be awake to the ways, like Jesus, we can feel trapped and tripped up by making our way in the world today.
Prayer: God guide me and ground me with an honest and open heart on the ways I go astray each and every day. Amen.