February 21st — 3rd Email
I’ve been suggesting that one way to understand Lent is as an opportunity to broaden our personal sense of freedom as God’s beloved children. The season of Lent is patterned on the story of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness. One common theme in the devil’s three temptations is that in each case Jesus is offered a way to be in this world that would run roughshod over human freedom.
Turning stones into bread could end world hunger – a worthy cause for sure. But what would become of our freely taking responsibility to solve the problem? Accepting all the powers of the kingdoms of this world would make it possible for Jesus to compel human beings to “to do the right thing”, but the freedom to choose to be a part of the solution would be lost. If Jesus did jump off the top of the temple so that the angels might catch him, the crowds witnessing such a spectacular miracle would have no choice but to bow down and worship him.
But God cherishes our freedom to choose and as God’s son Jesus will not coerce or compel, rather, he invites. “Come, follow me,” he says and it is our call whether we will or not.
How will we respond?