Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Temptation of Jesus (Sermon March 1, 2020)

Going Deeper 
By Pat Russell 

“The Temptation of Jesus” – Matthew 4:1-11
Sermon by Pastor Bruce Spear

How could Jesus resist all that Satan was offering him in his time in the wilderness while at the same time being hungry?  He was offered a chance to fill his own physical needs; he was offered a chance to confirm that he would always be safe; he was offered tremendous earthly power. And yet Jesus said, “No.”

I would like to suggest that in his first 30 years of life, Jesus leaned into a powerful spiritual habit.  It is called “detachment.”  We often think of detachment as being a blank sheet of paper in the face of someone or something – we show no emotion, we don’t care, we are distaining of the object or person.  But that is not what the spiritual habit of “detachment” is.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun suggests that the desire behind the discipline of detachment is “to nurture the spirit of trust that is attached to God alone.”  She goes on to define it as “replacing the attachment to (1) idolatrous relationships and (2) self-serving goals and agendas for success, money, power, ego, productivity and image with whole-hearted attachment to and trust in God alone.”*

Jesus: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Jesus was detached from filling his physical needs as the highest priority in life.  He was attached to the what comes out of the mouth of God, instead.

Jesus: “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  Jesus was detached from trying to protect himself.  He was attached to relying upon the Lord’s discretion regarding his body’s safety.

Jesus: “For it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”  Jesus was detached from his “success, money, power, ego, productivity and image.”  He was attached to only worshipping and serving God.

So, my friends, if we want to stand in the face of temptation, we might learn the discipline of detachment. How do we learn this?  Pastor Bruce has suggested that we memorize selected Scripture to set our mind in the right direction and set our hearts only on what the Father wants. In addition, here is a list of practices from Adele Calhoun that we can also engage in to increase our detachment strength and fortify ourselves when we might be tempted.

  •       Name and confess attachments that take priority over God.
  •      Allow others to lead and win.
  •      Let go of image management (e.g., not buying clothes just to stay in fashion). 
  •      Let go of notions that your money and possessions belong to you and make you who you are; living on less rather than more. 
  •      Trust outcomes to God rather that your own capabilities. 
  •      Honor the freedom of others; refuse to manipulate and control in order to get what you want.

This Season of Lent (or “spring housecleaning”) might just be the time for you through Jesus’ help to pick up another “house-cleaning” tool as Paul says in Ephesians 6, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.  Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” 

*Spiritual Disciplines Handbook:  Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

Written by Pat Russell in follow-up to the sermon.

Feel free to email me to express your thoughts and experience with this passage.

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