During my quiet time this morning I read today’s Lenten devotional from Matthew 4:1-11. It is the passage concerning the temptation of Jesus in the desert. It made me realize that we all are tempted in different fashions, but usually in a productive manner. I personally believe that evil typically enters our lives in subtle fashion. I am no longer tempted by the same things I was when I was a teenager. For me, evil can manifest itself in my life through attitude and a critical spirit. When I studied this scripture this morning, it had little impact. I even thought, “Gee, what will I blog about.” But God is always faithful when we truly seek Him.
I have grown up in the church I now attend. I believe its theology, mission and purpose. There are times when many of the local aspects of the church cloud my attitude and it is as this point--within the confines of my heart-- that I am tempted. Today was one of those days. It is easy to critically view the physical church. Finding fault with the programs, leadership and worship style can cloud my heart and before I know it that critical spirit stagnates my spiritual walk. I become an ineffective Christian.
I entered worship this morning with a less than stellar attitude. Those insignificant irritants listed above were in the forefront of my mind and I began to feel my attitude sliding into that abyss of negativity. This is the desert where temptation can try my heart and mind if I allow it to do so. Remembering the scripture in Matthew and our Lord’s temptation, a sudden peace swept over my being. I came to the re-realization that God’s Church is NOT this local one. Praying for strength to see past myself, I was able to enjoy what God had to say to his people through the words of our pastor. I was being transformed—
Even this short lesson in trusting God, had its own speed bump. The evil one didn’t let my spirit go quite so easily. Three quarters of the way through the sermon the pastor interjected what seemed to be a very insecure and unnecessary comment about our church before his ministry. In that moment, I could feel my heart transform immediately to that critical nature as though everything God had shown me was clouded. But it was as if the Holy Spirit would not allow my heart to remain in this state and I was reminded that my pastor, though ordained by God, is only human. Because he has revealed much of his heart though ministry, my heart was assured that he would never knowingly say something to hinder anyone in his flock. I witnessed my pastor in a more human light.
When it all is said and done, becoming a vital member of the "church our world needs" means constantly taking stock of our own spiritual status. It means understanding the ways in which temptation can test our hearts and create less than effective lives. It does NOT mean being bound to the building we enter every Sunday, but instead to the folks who journey together with us.
There are no words to capture the conversion of my spirit today. So, the journey continues, even through the desert…
This I know for sure…
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