This is a devotional I wrote for the Lenten Devotional at my church, Calhoun First United Methodist. If you are interested in reading more of our devotions during Lent, please follow us at calhounumc.wordpress.com. Enjoy!
Saturday, March 11
Spiritual Questions: Whose are We?
We have been asking ourselves this week who we belong to as Christians – and if we answer, “We belong to God,” then the question becomes – “What does that mean in our day to day life?”
Jesus was trying to figure some of this out for himself when the Holy Spirit led Him to the wilderness immediately following the “mountain top experience “ of his baptism. There the Devil was waiting to tempt Him, to try to win Him away from his goal of saving humankind. This was a high stakes battle.
What I notice about these verses in Matthew 4:1-11 is that in each of the three instances, the Devil offers Jesus the easy way out –
“Jesus, you are hungry, just turn these rocks into bread and you can eat!”
“Jesus, you know deep down you don’t want to go through the pain of the next few years, as well as death on the cross – just jump off of the temple and God will send His angels to catch you – then everyone will believe in you!”
“Jesus, you can live in splendor like a king should – Just worship me and I can give you all the wealth and power you want!”
Yet Jesus, even in his weakened state, digs deep into the Scripture on which he was raised and finds the strength to tell the Devil NO! I can’t imagine how hard this would be after fasting for 40 days. If I miss even one meal I’m so cranky I give into most anything. But following Christ isn’t about taking the smooth and well-worn path. It involves climbing over some rocky and steep trails, often not being able to see the way ahead.
Sometimes I feel that if I am having a hard time being loving and kind and “Christlike” that it is all my fault, that I just have not spent enough time in prayer and Bible study, and many times that’s true. But the Devil didn’t just go away and leave Jesus alone after their time in the wilderness, and he doesn’t quit trying to pull us down and away from the truth. He keeps after us and often that can make our journey difficult.
Jody Bryson recently shared a quote from C.S. Lewis that struck me and relates to these verses from Matthew:
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
So if you are looking for a quick fix, instant gratification, or an immediate answer to all your problems, don’t come to Christ. If you do not want to feel empathy for those who are suffering, don’t want to give your time and money to something outside of yourself or have no desire to share your burdens with others, stay away. But if you crave a fuller, deeper and more multi-faceted life, with the Holy Spirit in you each moment to guide and comfort you, and the promise of eternal life – then I recommend Christianity.
Dear God, we pray this day for the courage to follow you, even when it is difficult. Thank-you for your Holy Spirit, who is always with us to give us strength against the temptations and trials that come our way.