Still Tricky After All These Years
Over two weeks ago we began a journey to explore our mission. Since then we’ve discussed what it is and what it is not. We’ve looked at 3 common and potent distractions from our mission and how to avoid them. All told we have delved into what it means to have a mission on stay on mission.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Writing about topics like this forces me to figure out what I really believe and discover things about myself that need to change.
Wrapping up this series on mission, I wanted to give you a glimpse of where I came from with some of the ideas I wrote about. The mission part was easy. I had to look no further than Jesus’ life and teachings to find the example of our mission. I also had several good books to draw upon (I plan on adding a book page to the site soon – I’ll list these books then).
The “distractions” portion of this series was a little more difficult. I relied heavily on my own lessons learned. And I could only find one place where they were discussed in a written format – they were hiding in plain sight in a very familiar passage of scripture.
Luke 4 recounts the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the Judean desert. For the longest time I have always viewed these temptations as sinful in nature. I thought Satan was trying to lure Jesus into sin just like he does all of us. But a couple of years ago, my thoughts on this changed. The thought occurred to me how out of character it was for Satan, the master of deception, to try to tempt the very one he knew to be the Son of God with sin. It just seemed too obvious, too conspicuous for Satan’s usual modus operandi. He generally confronts us where we least expect it. How much more so would he try to do the same to Jesus?
The more I looked at the temptations Satan pitched at Jesus, the less sin I saw in them. Turning stone to bread? Jesus turned water to wine – why wasn’t that sin? Throwing himself off the temple to fulfill prophecy and prove he was the Son of God? If fulfillment of prophecy was sin, Jesus was destined to sin without any help from Satan. Worshipping Satan? OK, I’ll grant you that one, but even this was way too obvious. I think it was a red herring – Satan’s attempt to throw Jesus off the real temptation found in giving Jesus the kingdoms of the world.
Right after thinking that last thought, it hit me. Satan wasn’t trying to get Jesus to sin. He was trying to lead Jesus down a different path other than his mission. Satan had to have known the chances of getting Jesus to sin were somewhere between zero and none. He had to come at him from another angle – his mission.
If we look at these temptations through a missional lens, they take on new meaning. Turning stones into bread becomes an attempt to have Jesus focus on his own human need first. What better way to lead Jesus away from the pain and sacrifice of the cross? Presenting Jesus the kingdoms of the world offered a seemingly more effective alternative than the cross – implementation of Christian law around the world. But this would still leave the world no closer to God than Mosaic Law did before Jesus came. And willingly throwing himself off the pinnacle of the temple would twist the true message of the Messianic prophecy into nothing more than manipulation. What better way to begin leading Jesus away from the cross than through a misrepresentation of scripture?
Everything Satan leveled at Jesus that day was meant to do one thing – distract Jesus from his true mission. And today, at the end of this series of posts, we see Satan still using these same tactics against the children of God. He tries to divert our resources away from our mission and toward our own “needs” and fulfillment of the American Dream. He tries to convince us the best way to achieve our mission is through the rule of law and the politics of government. He tries to skew our focus away from our mission with theologies that appear sound but in reality are nothing but lies.
Have one more at the video of the distracted marathon runner below:
Like this unfortunate runner, have we allowed Satan to distract us from our finish line? Or have we responded like Jesus did, with a laser beam focus on our mission and the determination to see it through no matter what?
The finality of mission echoes in Paul’s last address to Timothy. In the same way, it resonates in this, our final post on mission:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
II Timothy 4:7 (NIV)
Keep your focus and …
Live The Mission,