Who is at the Center?
Beloved in Christ,
On Monday evening, I had the great joy of being present for Bible study at Calvary in Rochester. They are reading the Gospel of Luke as part of our diocesan-wide scripture study this fall.
We talked about Jesus' temptation in the wilderness in Luke 4. One of the striking things about that story is that Jesus is tempted by three good possibilities. Who wouldn't want Jesus to turn stones into bread to feed the world, or rule all the nations on earth, or prove decisively that God will act to save us from disaster? But Jesus responds to every offer by pointing back to God's agency, sovereignty, and power. It is God who ultimately feeds and satisfies, it is God alone who is worthy of worship, and our job is to lean on God, not demand proof on our narrow terms. The story is a do-over of the sin committed by our first ancestors in Eden. What hooks Adam and Eve is the promise that they can be like God. If they eat the fruit, they won't need God anymore; they can be in charge of things. That, ultimately, is the temptation for all of us. The root of human sin and the world's brokenness is our tendency to place ourselves and our own agendas at the center, to try to go it alone, rather than learning to lean fully on the power of God.
So the essence of the life of faith is no more and no less than the daily work of putting aside our own ego and placing God at the center of our lives and our communities. It's about letting go of our need to control everything and everyone around us, clinging more tightly to God's power. It's about setting aside our own agenda and getting on board with God's agenda to heal the world with love. It is so simple, and it demands everything we are and everything we have.
Who, or what, occupies the center of your life? Whose agenda, really, are you following? The pain, injustice, and brokenness of the world will not be fixed because we are good enough, or because we demand the world fit into what we imagine it should be. The path to freedom and healing will not be found by convincing God to endorse our agenda. Peace, joy, freedom, healing, and love will only be found by giving up, by letting go, by diving so deeply into the life of scripture, prayer, sacrament, and life together as disciples that we are fully carried along as the love of God thoroughly floods the barren land around us, world without end.
Grace and peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya