Posted by: gebs | March 8, 2008

Temptation

During this period of lent I have been meditating on the story of Jesus in the desert and the temptations he underwent (Mt 4:1-11).  In this story we are told about three temptations which Jesus overcomes.  These three temptations summarise all the struggles we encounter in our worldly life on our journey to God – a journey which is often never begun and easily abandoned.  The three temptations come from the body, the mind, and the world. 

 

The gospel of Matthew tells us that when Jesus was famished, the tempter came to him and asked him to turn stone into bread so that he could eat and no longer feel hungry.  This temptation signifies all the temptations that come from the body.  These include all bodily pleasures and desires.  Unlike our starving brother and sisters who live in the impoverished parts of the world, we in the West struggle with obesity and substance abuse.  We struggle with what we eat and how much of it we consume.  Our bodily desires are not only for food and drink.  We also struggle with addictions of one sort or another.  Whether it is with alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs. The temptations that come from our bodily desires are many.  We also struggle with the bodily pleasures our world associates with sex.  The sex industry seems to be growing at an unquenchable rate, and our perversity is becoming incomprehensible.  Children are being sold as sex slaves and our youth are continuously being brain washed by the economy of sex and porn.  The body, therefore, is a major battle ground for temptations which take us away from God and embed us on the path of destruction and death.  As with all things material, our bodies will one day perish and the question will remain as to whether or not we were able overcome these temptations with a power that is promised to outlive such an inevitable end.

 

The next type of temptation occupies all things that come from the mind.  In the story the devil tells Jesus that if he is the so called Son of God then surely he can do anything he wants and God will not allow him to get hurt.  He tells Jesus that he should test God’s love for him and try to hurt himself to see whether or not he is truly who he thinks he is.  The temptations of the mind are always in the form of some question raised out of doubt and fear.  We always question our faith in the invisible God and always want to test it in some way we think will make us believe more.  Our mind is continually trying to convince us otherwise and our self is always trying to take control of our life.  Not only does our mind lead us away from God but we often occupy it with thoughts that lead only to decadence.  We use our minds to lead our lives in the paths we think will make us happy and are easily convinced in our own ways.  The temptations of the mind are often more powerful than the temptations of the body and are used to justify what we do with our bodies.  Our mind is often enslaved to our body.  

 

Lastly, there are temptations of the world.  In the final temptation Jesus is promised all the power and luxuries of the world and all its kingdoms.  The devil tempts Him by telling him that he can be the most powerful and richest man on earth.  The temptations of the world are often made up of wealth and power.  There is no doubt that we are all haunted and to some extent enslaved by such things.  We all desire to be wealthy and work day and night so that we can have the things we want in life.  This is perhaps the greatest temptation which enslaves us to this world.  We spend so much time and effort trying to be successful in this world so that we can be wealthy and enjoy the things that come with such money.  Most of our daily conversations are often only about business and work. Imagine we spent half our time working out how we can get closer to God and love.

 In the story of Jesus in the desert we have a summary of the types of temptations which haunt our existence.  For many, these are not an issue, but for those of us who have been given a glimpse of the eternal light for which we have been promised they are haunting.  During this lent I have been reminded of the difficulty of trying to stay faithful in a world that easily turns one away from God.  I have been reminded of all the temptations which often go unnoticed in my life.  Again it is only the faith which God has blessed me with that allows me to keep moving towards him despite the doubt that is raised in my heart.  I pray that I may stay faithful to the path he is trying to show me in life and that I do not succumb to the temptations which dominate my world.  I pray that the dim light he has planted in my heart may grow and become the only source of all my desires and thoughts.   


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