I’m going to babble a little bit.
What are the WAYS of Jesus? I’ve heard a few sermons over the years, talking about the ways of Jesus. I have no idea what His ways look like, but I have a pretty good idea what it does not look like. I’m writing this in response a post by Former Leader. “She ends her post with these sentences. “Then why do I not know? What is wrong with me?” I think it is a common struggle for us. I mean “What do we have to show?” And by “we”, I mean the people that left the organized part of church. Most of us are not the victorius christians you hear of every day. Most of the time we represent the little shitty christian life. We constantly hear messages of people who are very self-assured that they are doing God’s will. They have the proof. They know the way of God. They will do whatever it takes to get the job done. “Join us!” is their call. “Look, God is doing something new!” “God is doing something big!” I’m going to represent a different perpective 🙂
First of all, I am going to take you to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. The one in Matthew 4:1-11. The devil waited until Jesus was at His weakest and the came with a few suggestions for Jesus. How royally do you think Jesus looked after 40 days and nights of fasting in the desert? He was without help, exhausted, filthy, starving, and dehydrated. The devil seized the opening. In quintessence, he said, “Let me show you an approach to accomplish your heart’s desire.”
The first temptation
“If you are God’s Son, order these stones to turn into bread.”
A few things come to mind, when I read this. The devil temps Jesus to be what He is. A God. “Act like it, for crying out loud. Be something. What’s this hunger thing? You don’t need all this aggravation Jesus. Come on!! Draw on the power You have. Satisfy Yourself. Save Your own life.” Jesus did not eat for 40 days. His primary need was for His biological needs to be met. Maslow would call it “physiological needs”. Stuff such as oxygen, chow and water. Jesus says there is more important stuff than that. The devil says; “I see You are hungry. Now you know what it feels like. There are a lot of people out there that are starving. You can fix this. People are sick, cold and homeless. You can make this world a better place. Come on Jesus. What are You waiting for?”“Use the shortcut method, Jesus.” What was Jesus waiting for? Why did He not help Himself to some bread? Why did He let go of His power to save Himself?
The second temptation
Then the Devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, the Holy City, set him on the highest point of the Temple, and said to him, “If you are God’s Son, throw yourself down, for the scripture says, ‘God will give orders to his angels about you; they will hold you up with their hands, so that not even your feet will be hurt on the stones.’
The devil was probably reminding Jesus of the prophecy in Malachi (Malachi 3:1 The LORD Almighty answers, “I will send my messenger to prepare the way for me. Then the Lord you are looking for will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger you long to see will come and proclaim my covenant.”) which had led to a common conviction among the Jews that Messiah would unexpectedly come into view at the temple.
He wants Jesus to jump from the top and make a show that will capture the people’s imagination. He will surprise, astonish and fulfill their expectations, all at the same time. “Be a showman Jesus. Show Yourself to everybody. I quoted from the scriptures Jesus. Look it is in the Bible! And we all know the Bible is inerrant. Come on Jesus. Draw attention to yourself. Show Your power. Go on an ego trip. Draw attention. God loves You. He will not let anything happen to You. Don’t be afraid. Test God. Let Him prove His love for You. Oh come on. Think of the people down there. You could awe them into respect and obedience. Using only this one demonstration, You can capture their allegiance forever. Who knows, You could be a world wide success. Come on, I’m giving you this on a plate. What more do You want?”
The third temptation.
Then the Devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in all their greatness. “All this I will give you,” the Devil said, “if you kneel down and worship me.”
This time the devil takes God out of the loop. “OK, Jesus, I see You are a tough nut. Join me and I help You rule the world. You are a ruler after all. With Your wisdom and my cunning, we will make a great team. What are You willing to do in order to establish the kingdom of God, Jesus? Come on. Think about this. You can have splendor, instant power and significance AND You can have this while You are building the kingdom of God! If You oppose me, there will be misery, revolt and sadness. But do not think about it in that way. Liberate Israel from Roman rule. Establish righteousness and justice in the world. Pay attention to the poor. Bring about world peace. Do it successfully! Do it now! You can do it all. You can have it all. Why are You content to serve God alone? He is taking His time and He seems too have a slow and vague system of achieving results. Let’s leave God out of the picture. Let’s go for success and power first. Afterwards you can bring God in on the deal. We can leave God out for practical reasons. Come on Jesus, you want a kingdom. Does it matter how You acquire it? I will use Your zeal for God and Your best side to help You get what You want.”
We will also be tempted, so what does the temptation tell us? I think it is important to note that Jesus rejected the ways of the devil and that suggests that the devil will go on using them.
The devil will offer us the following.
1. Power, authority and influence to do what we want. “Of course we want what Jesus wants. Who can be against you when Jesus is on your side? And Jesus is all about power, ain’t He? Come on, Jesus, be all You can be, in order that we can win and beat back our problems. Be bold, rise up, and be obedient to the voice of the Lord. As you do, you’ll discover new strength and freedom like you’ve never experienced before, and you will discover the champion in you!”
2. Instant results. “Quick answers. Working rapidly for the higher good. “Get a successful ministry now! Not later! Pursue these methods and the size of your youth group will double, even triple. Raise your family this way and your children will be obedient and follow Christ.” Remember, it is all about results. No results indicate, you are probably not on God’s path. Who wants to go to God with empty hands?”
3. Significance, splendor and importance. “Who achieved anything with anonymity and obscurity? Be significant for God. Become a leader in your church. You will have the respect that you deserve. Have an impact for Christ. That’s what successful Christians do. If Jesus is in your life, you will be able to dazzle people. You will have friends in high places. You will be popular. One day you will stand and preach to the people and be as important as the guy/lady currently doing it.”
4. Recognition and definitely no suffering. “God wants you to be blessed. Expect happiness and prosperity. Enter this ministry and find fulfillment like you’ve never had before. Remember, big is better. Large can be seen.”
5. Self-indulgence and possessions. “Get a vision for your future! Get a vision for increase! Get a vision for abundance!” God delights to see you prosperous and successful. When you choose to think God’s thoughts and choose God’s way, you’ll see that increase and victory in every area of your life! Don’t let yourself have a barely-get-by-mentality. Jesus came so that you can live an abundant life! That means an abundance of joy, an abundance of peace, an abundance of health, an abundance of finances. There are incredible riches available when you invest in your relationship with God by spending time in His life-giving Word. When you show God that you’re trustworthy, you remove the limits of what He can do in your life. This is the way to blessing and increase.”
6. Promise of security. “You will be safe. God will keep you. He will protect you. Go and read Psalm 91. Ever heard of positive confession?”
7. A chance to test God. “Go on, give a tenth of what you earn. It starts with your response to God’s offer to test Him in this area by giving to Him first. Look it is in the Bible for crying out loud. Give and you will receive. Come on, test the Eternal Slot Machine.”
8. A chance to use the kingdoms of the world to advance the kingdom of God. “That’s right. You can use what the world uses to help people. Now that Jesus is on your side, you can do it better than the world. The world likes to make noise. Hell, we will make more. Money? No problem. God is richer than anyone else. We’ll show the world how to spent money. We’ll show the world how to use power. We’ll get everybody on our side by promising them security. We can play on their fears, or appeal to their greed. What matter are numbers. We are partakers in the prophecy in Rev 11:15 (Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.) Again, are you not paying attention? It’s in the Bible!! We will reign. We will be rulers over all. Come and join us in this fight.”
I could probably add a lot more.
The danger of temptation is that most often tempts us to the good or what we perceive as good. It will never come to us and say, “Hey, want to wreck your own life or some other lives?” We would probably decline. Temptation usually shrouds itself in something harmless, even worthy, leaving the destructive cost in the small print that few of us bother to examine.
Furthermore, temptation may come from a source that we do not expect. Look how the devil offered himself to Jesus. He acknowledged Jesus as God’s Son. He understood that Jesus could do wonders. He cited Scripture. He came to Jesus in His moment of trial. He presented to Jesus a way to accomplish His ministry. He appeared very helpful.
God’s way is a problem to the devil. The end does not justify the means. We are mostly tempted towards good ends. Why not take the good parts of being human without the difficult? As followers of Jesus, that’s something that we often long for. We want God to win and we want to win with Him. Jesus was tempted to wear a crown but not a cross. If we want to be Christ’s disciples who do God’s will, we must be cross bearers. Our temptation, like Jesus’ temptation, is to always go an easier way. God’s way seems different. For some reason He chooses a strange, unhurried, unobtrusive, low profile, shy, unassuming, humble, meek, ordinary love affair.
NOW, listen again to the messages you hear. WHAT are they telling you?