Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Contrast between What We are Seduced to Do and What We are Called to Do

When Christ is tempted in the wilderness, Satan says, "If you worship me, it will all be yours." (Luke 4:7)

Let us be honest for a moment, fellow sinner, and admit how enticing that temptation is.  But Jesus rejects it out of hand (the only way to deal with any temptation is just so, to nip it in the bud, for entertaining the inner desire even for a moment is the worst thing you can do).

The irony is that "all this" is already His.  Our Lord made it and Our Lord reigns over it - beyond the passing reign of the Prince of this Realm.  Can we remember, when tempted, that the same applies to us?  My greatest temptations are to reach for and to possess in a greedy, clutching and secretive way things I already have, things that I hold in trust, things that I have no outright and absolute claim to, but that I am stewarding until the return of the King, their rightful owner.  Worship the devil and it will all be yours?  No, worship God for it is already yours - in trust for the moment, and in earnest as a token for a future possession, a future Kingdom, that will be a far greater thing for you to hold.

Later, when Jesus comes down the mountain after His transfiguration, He is told that His disciples had been unable to exorcise a demon during His absence and heal the harm it was causing its victim.  He responds ...

You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me. (Mat. 17:17)

Why the sternness of the rebuke, which appears addressed not only to those who are begging for a cure, but also to the disciples who failed to effect one?  What had His disciples done wrong?  Wasn't this situation simply outside of their own power and authority?

Well, no.  Not if they had passed beyond their dunder-headedness, their tendency to slug around and scratch themselves and remain comfortable in their dead and dying sinful selves while Jesus did all the work.  And, like them, we are "unbelieving" and "perverse" to the extent that we do not believe that we are called to perform (by means of His grace) the same miracles of healing (which are now typically miracles of spiritual healing) that He did, and that He continues to do.

O, unbelieving and perverse fellow sinners!  Let us renounce the possessiveness that tempts us and boldly begin to do what Our Lord is calling us to do.  Those around us are themselves "possessed" - by greed and hunger and lust and confusion, by loneliness and abuse and want - and they are looking for Him to liberate them, which He deigns to do through us.

"Bring him here to Me".

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