Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt from it

Read Matthew 4:1-17

The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

More thoughts for meditation

This is another part of our statement on “what we do because of who we are” as Circle of Hope. It is a joy to say…

We create an environment where people can connect with God and act for redemption
to resist and restore with those moved by the Holy Spirit.

resistOur existence is resistance. But we intend to have a much more active approach to overturning and redeeming the domination system. Our journey causes friction and leaves a wake. The following quote from Eugene Petersen has much to say about this “way” of resisting and restoring:

“Each of the devil’s temptations has to do with the way that Jesus is the way, the way he will go about his work. Will he reduce and depersonalize the way by imposing his will on the rocks, using them to provide for human needs, first taking care of himself and then feeding a lot of people? Will he put on a circus spectacular, demonstrating the miraculous, ever-present providence of God to the people on the street but never dealing with them as persons? Will he rule the world by means of a faceless bureaucracy, efficiently enacting justice and prosperity without getting his hands dirty?

Jesus said no to each one in turn. Jesus gave a definitive, scripture-backed no to each temptation. And why? Because in each case it would have been an impersonal way, a way abstracted from relationships, a way disengaged from love, a way imposed from the outside. It would have been a way ripped out of the comprehensive story of salvation, and therefore ripped out of participation in people’s lives. Whatever the way of Jesus means, bullying force is not part of it…The way of Jesus is always exercised in personal ways, creating and saving and blessing. It is never an impersonal interference from the outside.

In the three great refusals, Jesus refuses to do good things in the wrong way. Each temptation is wrapped around something good: feed a lot of people, evangelize by miracle, rule the world justly. The devil’s temptation is to depersonalize the ways of Jesus but leave the way intact. His strategy is the same with us. But a way that is depersonalized, carried out without love or intimacy or participation, is not, no matter how well we do it, no matter how much good is accomplished, the Jesus way. We cannot do the Lord’s work in the devil’s ways. The devil has great ideas—brilliant ideas! The devil is the consummate ideologue, but he is incapable of incarnation. He uses people to embody his projects in functional rather that personal relationships. The devil is the ultimate in disincarnation. Every time that we embrace ways other than the way of Jesus, try to manipulate people or events in ways that short-circuit personal relationships and intimacies, we are doing the devil’s work. Vigilance is required. It is required still in the America where doing good work in impersonal ways is epidemic.” —Eugene Peterson in The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways that Jesus Is the Way.

Suggestions for action

Pray: I am eating the bread of life. Satisfy my hunger.

If the devil thought he could dominate Jesus, how much he must think he can express himself through us! We need to take a daily inventory. Am I trying to do good in an evil way? How unconsciously am I part of something that claims to be a good way but is not the Jesus way? This will take some meditation.