What will you use to become powerful? Who will you use?
The very essence of Christianity tells us that the destination (salvation) is only achieved by one way (the cross). The third temptation of Jesus was to try and cause him to give up the way by focusing on the destination and deceiving him to change the journey.
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Matthew 4 v 8-10)
Jesus had come to save the world that he was now being shown and to do it through the cross.
He is presented with a short-cut, away from the painful sacrifice.
Which is more important? Ruling the nations (after all one day every knee will bow) or the cross?
Earth often feels more understanding than heaven.
The temptation was to substitute the God of heaven with the god of the earth (it will cost you) versus the way of the cross (the sacrifice).
The moment we decide that earth is more important than heaven is the moment we have stopped kneeling before heaven.
Today I will host 2 zoom services to induct new ministers into their churches. Many will gather online to have a look at their new minister. Hopes will be high that a new day has come.
Near where I used to live is what used to be a church which has now been converted into offices. In the grounds is a very small brick building, almost like an outhouse. It was the study of John Nelson, the most successful and famous of John Wesley’s lay assistants and the pioneer of Methodism in Yorkshire. That study is still there today despite being over 300 years old. It is empty and crumbling and I am sure one day someone will knock it down completely. In that place 3 centuries ago a man would kneel before heaven and pay the price for a county to be saved.
I see danger. I see deceit. I see the third temptation. It is to get us away from kneeling before heaven.
My prayer today will be that the 2 new ministers will continually kneel before their God of heaven.
You see Churches today are needing strategists, problem solvers, business executives, high ranking managers, visionaries, movers and shakers. People are following transactional leaders, democratic leaders, charismatic leaders, introverted leaders, transformational leaders, authoritarian leaders, delegating leaders and of course coaches and mentors. So leaders go online, get a book or go conference-hopping to be that very person that everyone is dreaming of. The praying, weeping, studying, kneeling, fasting, longing worship is becoming a very small brick monument that is crumbling and empty.
And the problem? We never did get the kingdoms of the world. It was all a mirage. The devil has no self-awareness. He is deluded, blinded by his own lies.
Is there a way back? Of course! Back on your knees. Deuteronomy 6 says ‘worship and serve the God of heaven only’ and in doing so you go the way of the cross. It is the only way.