Lent begins with Jesus alone in the wilderness being tested by the Tempter. Temptations rarely beckon us to do something vile, terrible or evil. It’s unlikely any of you woke up laying plans to commit adultery, desecrate the sanctuary, or become consumed by anger. Temptations usually just pull us a little off track. I read that when flying, one mile being off-course, just one degree, makes you miss the target by 92 feet. One of our flight engineers checked this data and offered information about wind variance and the earth’s magnetic field, but let’s go with 92 feet! 92 feet is not a lot- it’s barely noticeable over a mile. However, 92 feet is enough to drop one wheel off the runway! Over 600 miles, a one degree miscalculation misses the destination by 10 miles. Ten miles might put you in the ocean or into mountains. Our temptation is spiritual drift. You do not need to make 92 degree turns to end up spiritually adrift- just keep moving a few degrees off Christ’s soul-centering direction.
The Tempter does not entice Jesus to forgo his mission offering him leadership of a feel-good, isolationist, hashish, sin-of-the day, nudist compound. No, the Old Fooler offers the Prince of Peace popularity, power, comfort and splendor for the low-low price of a slightly misaligned mission. Jesus stays on a harder course leading to his cross and our salvation.
If we misunderstand, misalign, mistrust, misuse, misspend our life by a few degrees, we slowly drift away from Jesus’ course. If we misuse our power, spending on our needs, we misalign with the great commandment drifting away from love and community into isolation, jealousy, gossip, factions, division, quarrels and greed. If we misspend our energy, seeking entertainment, comfort, or splendor, we meander away from truth and virtue. If we miscalculate our priorities, living for wealth, power, and position, over time we lose sight of justice, goodness and love.
Lent comes as a course correction. Worship realigns our direction back towards the cross. Indeed, the spiritual life is not one of guilt and shame, but of re-calibration and realigning our lives with love- with Jesus: The Way, The Truth, and The Life. If we love the wrong things, build our lives on lesser goods, neglect spiritual navigation, follow the crowd, misalign our priorities, misspend our lives, and misuse our resources, that is enough to fail to achieve our Designer’s goals for our lives. Lent comes as a re-calibration, a spiritual reset, a course correction. By laying aside pleasing distractions and taking up spiritual testing, we reset our daily trajectory aligning our life with the teachings of Christ. Join us Sunday as we consider the easier Yoke of Jesus.
Grace and Love