Lead Us Not Into Temptation
Lead Us Not Into Temptation March 26, 2020
The Christian scholar C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, and hatred.” I think this quote is a good reminder to think more broadly and deeply about sin. It came to my mind this week as I was thinking about the part of the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus says, “Lead us not into temptation” because when it comes to temptations, it seems we can often dwell on just the basic physical ones like being tempted to eat too many sweets or being tempted to steal something, and not think of other deeper spiritual temptations.
As we face the crisis of the growing threat of covid-19 there are a lot of spiritual temptations we could give into. There is the temptation to believe that this is only a foreign virus that we can blame on outsiders. This has led to higher rates of attacks on Asian Americans since people have focused their anger on them as representing the “outsiders.” There is the temptation to view those with expertise with disdain and not really believe things are that bad. There is the temptation to not think about others and disregard the efforts to keep our physical distance. There is the temptation to put money and stock prices above human life and go back to business as usual too soon.
When Jesus faced temptation from Satan out in the wilderness, some Bible translations say he was being tested. We as a nation are facing one of our greatest tests as well, as we discern how best to respond to the pandemic. Will states, hospitals, and private citizens hoard supplies or will they coordinate and share where supplies are needed most? Will we support those hit hardest who are most vulnerable in our society or only subsidize those who are already privileged? Will we let blame and scapegoating lead to racial fears or will we work with all citizens and all nations to find practical solutions?
The moral failings due to temptation are much greater than just sticking our hands into the cookie jar without asking. They can have ramifications that affect the very fabric of our society. That is why we ask God not to lead us there, but rather deliver us from the evil directions that will only hurt us more in the end.
-Pastor Erik Goehner