Editor’s note: From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, bloggers for The Mennonite will write reflections on the Lectionary text. All eight reflections will be available at themennonite.org/lent. Sign up for our TMail newsletter and follow us on Facebook to receive the reflections.
It is incredibly easy to become lost. More than ever, people look toward social media feeds, bright television and phone screens, groups of people and peer acceptance to awaken the dormant potential within. Until one is able to stand alone, misunderstood, as an influencer rather than one who is easily influenced, he or she will remain in perpetual pursuit. What is this pursuit?
During the Lenten season, the body of Christ typically participates in the communal traditions of fasting, reflection and abstaining from distractive practices in preparation for Easter. This six-week period is holistically crucial for many believers and nonbelievers. Stepping away from normal routines in order to reflect and find inspiration and solace in a great sacrifice is a solemn and special time for millions of people all over the globe.
God’s unwavering love is found within, in quiet places where noise and gluttony are nowhere to be found. To be still is to feel the presence of God, for our help, strength and greatest influence cannot be found in “bread alone.”
In Luke 4:1-13, one of the Lectionary texts this week, Jesus is tested in the wilderness. The Spirit led Jesus to a territory where he was forced to come face to face with his humanity, the weakest facets of himself. In our weakness we are vulnerable, often lost and consumed by what tempts us. What is greater than our weaknesses? What overpowers our shortcomings? What awakens our purpose? What brings light to the darkest corners of our being? It is not the acceptance from mankind we need. It is not the sustenance of food that nourishes our whole being. It is the ability to be influenced and led by the Spirit and not by earthly distractions that sustains and keeps us. We are meant to be influenced by what is heavenly and intangible.
Over the next six weeks, we must delve into ourselves in order to assess what dominates our lives and captures our attention, time and resources the most. Is the discovery from this self-assessment beneficial or detrimental to our spirit? When we overly indulge our earthly senses, the perpetual pursuit of purpose will never come to an end.
When Jesus stepped foot in the wilderness, temptation did not win. The battles he faced there witness to the fact that it is impossible to resist outside influences without feeding our spirit. The strongest, most unshakable component of our entire being is the Divine Spirit within. What anchors us cannot be held or eaten. It must be fed and cherished even more than our earthly body.
What can you sacrifice that will influence and inevitably change the trajectory of your life? Refocus in order to find your center. In this still, solemn and reflective place, you will be reminded of your imperfect humanity, but you will also remember who and what is your anchor in the midst of the storm.
Lauren Francisco is director of outreach and communication for C3 Hampton (Calvary Community Church) in Virginia, and a creative consultant for multiple nonprofits. She has a master’s degree in clinical social work from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
Luke 4:1-13, New International Version (NIV): Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’.” 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. 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.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
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