Sunday, February 25, 2007

journey around the cross

We continue our wondering about sustainability this first Sunday in Lent. The community where I worship listened for God's word around the cross from these three responses of Jesus to the devil.

"One does not live by bread alone"
  • What does this mean to you?
  • In what ways will you begin living this?
"Worship the Lord your God and serve him only"
  • How is your worship life, inside and out?
  • How are you serving God?
"Do not put the Lord your God to the test"
  • How do you put God to the test?
  • What is God challenging in you?
I also wonder, how do these words from Jesus speak about sustainability? The first thing I notice is that Jesus warns us, right here in the temptation narrative (Year C, Luke 4:1-13), to be careful that our attention is not drawn merely to the physical, i.e. property or finances. If we begin talking about sustainability and taking it seriously let's begin the conversation wondering what it means to live by more than bread alone and trust that the things we need from day to day as individuals and communities in and of God will be provided by God.

Our attention is also called to our life of worship and service...the habits of our faith. I wonder how these point to the importance of sustenance and sustainability? Could it be that life ordered around worship and service is the way God's Spirit is sustained in our world?

And finally, aspiring for greatness is not the way of God. No duh? And yet all too quickly our conversation around being church, i.e. sustainability, reflects the achievement of greatness, even the 'cool' factor of greatness. We seek to define and thus reduce greatness by imposing measurements which distract us from what's of ultimate importance by asking, 'how many members do you have?', 'how many are you worshiping now?' and 'did you like our worship today?' What tests do we consistently fail because we are more concerned about how our marketing campaign is working rather than the time spent as community listening, loving and learning that the image of God is right in front of our faces, in the other,emerging?

Lord Jesus, expose within me the hidden aspects of you that need to die and that need to rise again. Amen.


Tim said...

Man does not live by bread alone is profound because Jesus is probably referring to the fact that God is the only source of worthwhile satisfaction. We were created to serve and worship him, as foreign as that sounds to our humanistic, narrow little minds.

I think that Jesus uses those words to point us to Himself. "If anyone thirsts, let him come unto me and drink. I give water that that if you drink it, you will never thirst again. If you drink of me, I'll give you the Holy Spirit who will cause a living spring of my water to flow from you." (that's the tim's bad memory translation of a few texts.)

Satan tells us that we have the goods and that we can supplement Jesus' work on the cross. In fact, we don't even really need Jesus, since there is a little bit of divine in all of us. Our corrupted human nature agrees with him immediately. But, Jesus reaches down and gives life to our dead spirits, allowing us to see the futility of our filthy works. The result is that we see the beauty of Jesus Christ and His perfect atonement. We cling to Him and fill our lives with a relationship with Him. God the Holy Spirit enters our soul and starts changing our desires and daily increases our dependence on the wisdom and work of Jesus.

That is why true Christians want to crucify the flesh. Not to get into heaven, but because they see true reality - they see their own filthyness juxtaposed (sp) against the beauty of God revealed through the person of Jesus Christ.

So, I echoe your prayer: Lord show me where I need to crucify my flesh and depend fully on the living water of your Son.

robert said...

the idea that sustainability is more than financial is compelling.

it is common in our society (by this i mean human society, not specifically the capitalist west) to get as much as we can from a resource before it "dries" up.

what is interesting to note, as well, is that this concept of sustainability is most obvious in many environmental and business practices but more subtle in government, taxation, and even in relationships.

the fact that so many relationships are broken, that so many families face the pain of being rent apart, demonstrates, at least in my mind, that much of our culture isn't sustainable - that our dysfunctional relationships are simply a symptom of a larger dysfunction - one that we have taken into our society that has its roots in our hearts...