Posted by: Walk.Build.Proclaim | March 6, 2014

Lead us not into Temptation….

Lead us not into temptation….

Did you ever ask yourself why it is that we pray those words as part of the Our Father? Lead us not into temptation. This comes after we’ve already dared to call God our Father, we’ve asked for our daily bread, and we’ve asked for the grace to not hold grudges against one another. And as if all this wasn’t enough, we then dare to ask to not be lead into temptation, BUT delivered from evil.

 I’ve been sitting with the readings from this last weekend for a week or so. The first reading from Genesis is the story of Eve being tempted by the serpent to eat of the fruit from the middle of the garden, the tree of knowledge and evil. We all know how that turned out.

 Jump ahead to the gospel and we find the very familiar story that we hear at the beginning of every Lenten season. Jesus is lead out into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights; at the end of this time Jesus is met by a tempter who offers three temptations.

 The tempter approached and said to him,

“If you are the Son of God,

command that these stones become loaves of bread.”

He said in reply,

“It is written:

One does not live on bread alone,

but on every word that comes forth

from the mouth of God.”

   Then the devil took him to the holy city,

and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,

and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.

For it is written:

He will command his angels concerning you

and with their hands they will support you,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus answered him,

“Again it is written,

You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

    Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,

and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,

and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,

if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”

At this, Jesus said to him,

“Get away, Satan!

It is written:

The Lord, your God, shall you worship

and him alone shall you serve.”

 

Temptation is a very human thing. We are tempted by a variety of things every day.   We may be tempted (lured) by the promise of power or money or that piece of chocolate cake just looks too good to pass up. When we give in to temptations there is the possibility of harming ourselves or someone else.  One of the most frequent temptations that we are probably faced with on a daily basis is the temptation to engage in what might be called “water cooler talk” or “office gossip”, or any conversation that involves us talking about someone who is not part of the conversation. I think it’s safe to say that most of the time those conversations aren’t overly kind and we know what we’re doing isn’t appropriate, yet that temptation to grab onto that apple on the tree in front of us can be just too much sometimes.

 This is where I’d like to bring Paul’s Letter to the Romans into the conversation. This weekend we heard from (or will hear from) Chapt. 5 verses 12-19. There is some tough language in this letter and a hard concept to wrap our brains around or even put contemporary words around (trust me I tried). As I took a step back and looked at the circumstances surrounding the writing of this letter, what struck me was what and who Paul chose not to write about.

 Paul’s letter to the Romans was most likely the last letter that Paul wrote to any community. Scripture scholars don’t think that Paul ever had any direct contact with the Roman community to which he was writing and remarkably he wrote this letter from jail!

 Never once in this letter does Paul write one negative word about the people who have put him in jail or are serving as guards or anything else during his time in jail. It would be really easy for Paul to give into the temptation of writing about his jailers. He takes the higher road and realizes that there is a more important message to be delivered. That message is a message of forgiveness. It is a message that says that we don’t need to keep living in the past; we don’t need to live in the shadow of the choices Adam and Eve made to bring sin into the world. Instead we can live knowing that Jesus laid down his life for all of humanity, for the forgiveness of sin.

Paul recognizes that we are human, we have flaws. We’re going to be lead into temptation. It’s how we confront those temptations as followers of Christ that is going to make the difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

 As we start this first week of Lent, I ask you to be aware of what temptations are around you everyday. Stop and think about how you are going to respond to that temptation. Will you give in and eat the fruit from the tree of fruit and knowledge OR will you be more like Jesus and Paul and say NO, the consequences of choosing to give into this temptation are just too great and could hurt myself or someone else.

 Lead us not into temptation….

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Gary Neal Hansen

Theology. It's good for you.

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