The Temptation of Good People

This past Sunday I preached at Lake Harriet United Methodist Church on the Gospel account of the temptation of Jesus. I used the three temptations described in our scripture as a way to talk about how people trying to lead good lives can be tempted into acting in ways that do not give glory to God.

Re-reading Walter Ciszek’s book, He Leadeth Me brought up another form of temptation for people trying to follow the call of God in their lives. In the context of discussing his own temptation to find a way to leave Russia and return to Poland when the ministry there was not what they expected, he says this:

And though our situation may have been somewhat unique, the temptation itself was not.  It is the same temptation faced by everyone who has followed a call and found that the realities of life were nothing like the expectations he had in the first flush of his vision and his enthusiasm.  It is the temptation that comes to anyone, for example, who has entered religious life with a burning desire to serve God and him alone, only to find that the day-to-day life in religion is humdrum and pedestrian, equally as filled with moments of human misunderstanding, daily routines, and distractions as the secular life he left behind in the world.  It is the same temptation faced by young couples in marriage, when the honeymoon is over, and they must face a seemingly endless future of living together and scratching out an existence in the same old place and the same old way.  It is the temptation to say: “This life is not what I thought it would be.  This is not what I bargained for.  It is not at all what I wanted, either.  If I had known it would be like this, I would never have made this choice.  I would never have made this promise.  You must forgive me, God, but I want to go back.  You cannot hold me to a promise made in ignorance; you cannot expect me to keep a covenant based on faith without any previous knowledge of the true facts of life….

It is a temptation that comes to every man and women, sometimes daily.

I’m guessing most of us can resonate with his observation. Surely we have all faced times when we questioned continuing on a path we felt called to. Perhaps Jesus did as well during his human life.

Temptation, of course, is a normal part of our humanity. The question is do we face it with the commitment to God’s plan Jesus (and Ciszek) did, or do we walk away?

PS You can watch my sermon on Lake Harriet’s website here. (It begins at about the 35 minute mark.)