By my ciphering, we are in our fourth week of relative isolation. As I lay in bed last night, I found myself reflecting on the account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. It occurred to me he was much more alone than I have been this entire time. He also did not have nearly the comforts and resources I am surrounded with. As aggravating as this situation is, it could be far more austere.
For one thing, Jesus went without food as he fasted for forty days. He could have commanded a rock to be turned into a loaf of bread, but he felt that was a misuse of his power. As for me, I would have gladly used such power to summon a cheeseburger the other night.
Another temptation Jesus faced was to throw himself from the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem in order to demonstrate how angels would prevent him from coming to harm. Jesus refused to do this by the reasoning of Deuteronomy 6:16: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test…”
Here is the very Son of God whom could have the protection of the heavenly host choosing to not abuse it.
Among the most frustrating things happening with our current group restrictions are the preachers and churches who are flaunting the Federal recommendations in the name of faith. They feel they have some special dispensation because they are believers. Frankly, this is on par with the snake handling crowd who base their theology on the short disputed addendum to Mark. Of course, reports are coming in about how some of these same congregations have unwittingly spread the virus amongst themselves. I guess the snake bit them after all.
As a “shepherd” I feel a tremendous responsibility for my flock. I told someone the first week of this mess that if only one person got sick from our having corporate worship I would never forgive myself. Yes…I am a person of faith. Yes… I trust this will end and God will see us through all the hardships that accompany it. However, in the meantime, I will not put the Lord my God to the test.
Jesus had two voices speaking to him during his time in the wilderness. One was his father in heaven and the other was Satan, the tempter. Despite who you may find yourself quarantining with these days, you essentially have the same two voices speaking to you. They may come to you in person, online or on TV.
On the one hand, Satan will whisper to you words of fear, chaos, discord, distrust and selfishness. Why did people hoard items at the expense of others? The devil made them do it of course.
The other voice comes from God. He speaks of encouragement, faith, compassion, peace, patience, community, hope and love.
It is up to you who you listen to.