Today’s Word: ‘POWER‘ as in… the first temptation is always to rely on our own power to get something for which we are already trusting the Divine.
Let’s jump back into the temptations for a moment, figuratively speaking. Matthew’s gospel gives us a stark picture of Jesus in the wilderness without his usual life-support systems: he’s without food and water, without friends and family, or even a stone for a pillow.
Jesus is alone. Except that he’s not quite alone.
The Spirit is present and leading him through his Wilderness while the presence of the ‘tempter,’ the adversary seems to be everywhere. This is where the universal gets very particular: we’re never without the presence of the Spirit even though we’re also surrounded by an adversarial presence most, if not all of the time. That’s the nature of temptation: it’s nearly always everywhere. Always.
The first temptation in this story is universal and archetypal, one with which we probably resonate deeply. If not, we’re doubly in trouble because not recognizing temptation is often more problematic than the temptation itself. “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
Again, the first temptation is always to use our own power to get something for which we are already trusting the Divine. Seriously, if The Source of all life is “for us,” who or what can be “against us?” Jesus is in the-Wilderness-of-providing-for-his-own-physical-needs.
Go ahead and read that once again… I’ll wait.
Always trying to provide what God can provide is truly a Wilderness endeavor. All kinds of sketchy things happen when we’re hungry, agitated, alone and tired. When our whole-life-support structures are not in place, we’re prone to all manner of temptations including the everywhere-present-and-persistent-lure of loving things and using people instead of loving people and using things, which is threatening on so many levels.
We probably don’t need a reminder of how the temptation to satisfy our own appetites without the power of Spirit acting as Provider and Protector in our lives is like circling that knife in the snow thinking it’s just harmless popsicle.