The Old Testament and the Gospel reading for today on how Adam and Eve, and Jesus were put to test resonates with the temptation and state of the family, nations and Christian faith in terminal decline. The tempter chose to go through Eve to get to Adam the way he goes though the family and the Church to get at Jesus Christ bearing in mind that the temper’s plan throughout the Bible is to destroy Jesus.
The gospel reading is set between the baptism of Jesus and the beginning of his public life just as the church is set today between the truth of God’s word versus partial truth in public life. Today, the family, nations and the church are in the wilderness of public life with the coming and confrontations of the tempter (cause to fall), devil (divide) with falsehood under the guise of the truth hence, the church especially is not only losing the battle for hearts and minds but in terminal decline. The state of the family, the church and nations today resonates with the ways ‘the tempter puts Jesus to the test in three areas, and attempts each time to deform his relationship with God the Father and with human beings.’ Temptation often comes when we are tired, stressed and sick, as a quick fix to our sensual yearnings forgetting that, not all that glisters are gold.
The purpose of the tempter over the family, nations and the church under test is to deform its relationship with God and people (Jn 10:10). Today, the tempter has manoeuvred his way into influential areas so as to change the course of family, nations and Christianity itself. The tempter has so disguised himself in sheep’s clothing that the average church goer or citizen can’t seem to recognise him anymore.The tempter ‘has wrapped himself in the garb of a politically correct philosophy to the point he is unrecognisable to the Biblically uninformed.’ Just as Jesus was invited and seduced to cope with hunger all by himself, by turning stones into bread, the church is under pressure to maintain and cope with spiritual hunger and sensual pleasure. The tempter tried to present a new kind of Bread theology and Christianity to Jesus just as our society is shifting on its moral axis today, stone to bread theology. It is on note that, ‘one of the most elemental forms of spiritual dysfunction is to make the satisfaction of sensual desire the centre of one’s life,’ goal and focus. The tempter’s question to Jesus to manipulate God by throwing himself from the pinnacle of the temple so that God can save him suggests a warning to the church not to be tricked to spiritual dysfunction or doubt its missional uniqueness before God.
There is a game going on in the church today, it is a game of domination just as the tempter invited Jesus by offering him power over earthly kingdoms in exchange for his homage. The tempter as author of confusion presents Scripture with a little twist. The tempter used the Scripture in direct conflict with the very nature and purpose of God. The reflection is that, ‘if Jesus gives in, he will no longer be the Jesus, our Saviour. If the church gives in to satisfaction of sensual desire or exchange God’s commands and holiness for earthly perversions and relevance, we would loose our saltiness and lightness. Jesus’ unshaking stand in remaining faithful each time the tempter puts him to the test provide a template for the church today to affirm over and over again the basic missional orientations of its existence. Just as Jesus reverses the effects of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, today, the family and the church despite our free will are raised to resist and reverse the spiritual dysfunction in our nations and not to be a part and partners in our national dysfunctionalities. When the family and the church as light and salt get it right, our nations will will get it right and better.
It is sad to see today how we are trying to reinvent and reimagine Christianity to suite the seductions of today’s sensual culture. This attitude promotes spiritual dysfunctioning whereas, in following Jesus’ footsteps, we must withstand the tempter and temptation and pray the tempter’s perversion back to righteousness. Following Jesus to remaining faithful requires determination and a spirit of perseverance. From Genesis to Revelation there are warnings in both Testaments directed to God’s people about the danger of falling away and departing from God and His truth. We are in an age and time of “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:7). Following Jesus to remain faithful is about loving God by placing ourselves completely behind God’s law. Remember, remaining faithful and your stewardship are all the more significant in light of the fact that “the end of all things is near” (1 Pet. 4:7, Heb 6:10).