The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.--Luke 4.9
Today I want to approach our time together with more space for reflection.
You'll need a bit of imagination for this. Let's start by making some associations. Look at the following and replace the names in the text with your context.
- Devil* = Voice of Accusation. (that voice in your life that suggests you need to do more to prove yourself and then when you do it accuses and shames you for not doing enough, or doing it wrong, or doing it and then pointing out how shallow you are). For most individualistic cultures that voice will likely be your darker self, but it could be a parent, a leader, a negative friend, etc.)
- Jerusalem = Most dominant city in your world (could be your hometown or the big city next to your hometown, or current city of residence.).
- Temple = Either your corporate, academic, or organizational world that your family or peers may want you to climb in order to legitimize yourself in their eyes.
- Highest Point= The ascent to the highest position, lifelong achievement, or VIP status within that community.
- Jesus = the spirit of Jesus that lives in you.
- Throw yourself down = what you would do with this achievement that would get everyone to really notice you.
Now recreate this scene with the new information.
Now meditate through this reimagining it in your context:
The devil [voice of accusation] led him [your inner Jesus] to Jerusalem [your city] and had him stand on the highest point [greatest accomplishment] of the temple [in your world]. “If you are the Son of God,” [questioning your inner-Jesus] he said, “throw yourself down from here. [what would you do with your ascent to the top].
For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
[imagine saying this to the Devil voice].
See yourself making decisions and taking actions in your life that are not tethered to people-pleasing, or affirmation seeking.
Satan says the following, "If only you were connected/approved of by ______________________ then you would be significant."
Say out loud: "It is written, Do not put the Lord your God to the test. I am already connected to God. I am already approved of by God. He has affirmed my life in Christ. I do not have to test this, prove this, achieve this, or get the world to notice this for it to be validated. It's in writing."
Here's the truth of it. God has already spoken. He has already approved of you. You don't have to do, achieve, earn, merit, any of this from Him. You are his joy and delight! Everything you need, everything, you already have in here (heart). All the approval to last a thousand lifetimes is bound up in that little heart of yours. Your God, and Father, approves of you, you don't have to legitimize yourself in any way.
There is nothing wrong, bad or weak about needing affection and approval. That is part of being human, it's just coming to see that this is something already met and given in Christ. And it's learning how not to be driven to do things based on earning someone's approval. Make decisions and choices with your life from the heart that you already have the approval you really need.
The movie Chariots of Fire came out in 1981, winning an Oscar for best picture, it's the true story of Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, who both won gold medals in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Both the athletes wanted to win the gold, but both for very different reasons. Liddell was a devout Scottish Christian and Abrahams was Jewish. At one point in the movie they both express why they run, what motivates and pushes them.
Harold Abrahams is asked, “Why are you running?” He replies with something like, “When that gun goes off, I have 10 seconds to justify my existence.” He is largely motivated to overcome the pressures and anxieties of his world, he wants to prove his worth to the world.
Eric Liddell explains why he runs with, “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.”
They both ran but for completely different motivations. They both won gold medals.
By the time Chariots of Fire was made Eric had passed away. His sister was interviewed about the movie and she pointed out that the there was one thing that bothered her about the movie, it didn’t show how every time Eric ran, he always ran with his face straight up to the sky and his mouth wide open, looking like a crazy man. She said this crazy and eccentric countenance he had when he ran was his way of worshiping.
THE FOUR GESTURES
Reflection. What stuck out to you in the the exercise?
Prayer. Go back to the baptismal event. Pray those words over you in a transformational kind of way.
Conversation. Have a conversation with Cleopas about all of this.
* שָׂטָן (Satan) means accuser and adversary. A fitting image here is a prosecutor. And "devil" comes from the Greek and is a Greek compound from "dia" meaning 'across' and "ballien" meaning 'to hurl'. Again the notion is to accuse, to hurl accusations across the heart.