Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Temptations of Christ Part Deux


The readings once again hit right on the money. This is the First Sunday in Lent and the Church just goes right into it BAM!!! The Temptations of Christ!

BTW here are the readings that you would definitely enjoy:

I got a funny story to share. I have given up meat for Lent. OK that is difficult enough because I have to eat things like vegtables and salads, which is what food eats. One of the greatest smells to a carnivor, like myself, is bacon. I LOVE bacon(yes I put the word in capital because I like it that much). A couple of days ago my mommy was making bacon because her sisters were coming over. She had to get ready and had asked me to cook it. It was very painful but as St. Paul says, "No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it." 1 Cor 10:13. By the grace of God I resisted because my prayer was becoming "He must decrease while Bacon must increase."

Only on Sundays in Lent can you push this button, nope! Not in this house!

Sometimes I hear people say that, "Well it was easy for Jesus to resist temptation because he was God. That doesn't count." Well, yes it is true that He is God but it was his humanity that was tempted. He had to resist them the same way we do except he didn't have the effects of original sin.

Well all know the Temptations:
1) Stones to bread.
2) Jump off the Temple so the angels can catch you.
3) Worship Satan to be ruler of all the Kingdoms of the world.

Now for a temptation to be valid it had to correspond with something inside you. I could not be tempted with an Ferrari or chocolate because I really don't care for either.

Now a chocolate Ferrari is a different story!

I am usually tempted by the same things, pride is one of them. See one of the predictable things about the devil is that he is not very creative. He will pretty much play off of your same insecurities and false gods. In "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis, plays much off this theme and the patterns of sin. It is a fantastic read and I recommend it. An interesting question to ask yourself is: if you were Satan what would you do to bring down your own soul. With prayer and honesty we can find the weak spots in our fortress and pay more attention to temptations which come from that direction.

So when I was praying over the readings I was thinking about the idea of Christ being tempted. Since he is one Person with two natures, a divine and a human nature, the temptations could only work by attacking his humanity. All this takes place before his public ministry. So his time in the desert is preparation period and I think on some level he is understanding more and more what will be asked of Him, the Messiah, the Suffering servant.

So for these temptations to be real not just a show Jesus on some level had to want what the temptations offered. Temptation is usually not for a bad thing. Satan is much more cunning than that, he makes us think that we are choosing between something "good" and "better." For example eating when you are hungry is good and so is keeping your fast. These are both good things so the question because which is better? That is where temptation comes in. We think that the immediate pleasure from eating will be better then the spiritual rewards of fasting. If the choice was something obviously wrong than what would be the point of the temptation. The concept of sin in the Old and New Testament is that sin is when we "miss the mark." Satan wants to just throw us off the path a little but not all the way because down the road we will not be at the intended target, full communion with God in heaven. (That is the goal, remember?)

On this graph we can clearly see, (How official does that sounds. Sounds like I know what I am talking about.) the read line, let's say is my life's intended path, the path to God and the green line is that same life effected by, for this example, by one sin or by "missing the mark" early on. There is a very subtle difference at point 3 on the X-axis between Red and Green. By 30 on the X-Axis there is a big difference between Red and Green. Imagine the difference at 100! All because of a subtle "missing the mark" early on the path . The subtly of sin has a very bad consequence for us down the road especially when we do not see the spiritual consequences of venial and mortal sins. The beautiful thing is that God can and wants to bring us back to Him. He wants us to be happy and to know Him fully. Satan is he who makes the straight crooked and God is He who makes the crooked straight. God can do wonderful things with your life, no matter what the sin is, if you let Him. Many times my life feels more like this:

No comment.

And God, who is the perfect Father, provides BOTH the gentle smack on the back of the head when I go to far and the embrace when I am ready to come back again. He wants my repentant heart and He wants to let me know that no matter what happens nothing can separate me, and you, from His Unconditional Love.

I totally just passed out writing this. I am going t0 bed y'all! Pray well!

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