On the Way: Temptation to Power
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. –Matthew 4:1
The devil tempts Jesus to use his power to feed himself.
Jesus uses his power to feed 5000 with a few loaves and a couple of fish.
The devil tempts Jesus to use his power to save himself.
Jesus uses his power to heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead.
The devil tempts Jesus to give up his power to rule the world.
Jesus gives up his life for the sake of the world.
In each temptation, Jesus is tempted to put himself first, to take care of his own needs, to protect his own interests and glorify himself. But that was not Jesus’ way. As Paul writes to the Philippians,
Though he was in the form of God,
He did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)
As Paul says, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
As a middle class, cisgender, straight, white man with a good job and a position of authority, I have more power and privilege than many. Because of who I am (through the facts of my birth over which I had no control), I have had many competitive advantages in the course of my life that have helped me get to where I am today. Over the past six or seven years, as I have learned more and more about the systemic nature of racism and I how I participate in and perpetuate those systems the question I wrestle with is… how do I use the power and privilege I have? How do I let the mind of Christ Jesus dwell in me – in my thoughts, my actions, my words, my way of life? How do I use the undeserved gifts and blessings God has given me for the sake of others? I fail at that sometimes. Often times. I am grateful for the forgiveness of Christ and others who accompany me on this journey. I am grateful for the mentors, teachers and friends who continue to help me see things in new ways.
Lent is about taking a hard look at yourself and how God is at work in your life to bring about a new creation. It is about walking to the cross with Jesus and seeing how we are all complicit in nailing him there. It is about seeing an empty tomb three days later as a promise of life not just for you, but for the whole world, no exceptions. It is about recommitting ourselves to living by every word that comes from the mouth of God, not putting God to the test, worshipping and serving God, and using our privilege and power not for our own glory, but for God’s glory and for the sake of God’s world.
Pray for our all our brothers, sisters and siblings in Christ who struggle every day to deal with the multitude of systemic barriers, boundaries and attitudes that keep them from being who God created them to be.
Thanks for reading.