Luke 4: 5-8
5-7 For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”
8 Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
What would you do if you had all the power in the world?
John Lennon used his creative power to 'Imagine' a world in which there was no heaven or hell, just 'living for today'. His vision was based on the assumption that worshipping God divides us. Actually, we are pretty good at dividing ourselves.
There's a wonderful video doing the rounds on social media at the moment, which shows a group of diverse Danes discovering that they have more in common with each other than they realise. The problem is, so often we do the opposite. We are more likely to focus on difference; to form tribes, to compete for power and resources. The Danes in the video had to be shown what they had in common across the borders they had created. They needed guidance.
Without guidance, it's as if the dust we are made of keeps building up and choking us. We know something's wrong, but we have no one to tell us how we are supposed to be shaped. We are adrift, rolling slowly through an empty landscape.
Until a clever dustbowl salesman comes along, offering us his snake oil remedy which will bring power and glory, or peace and prosperity. All we have to do is sign here...
"And the devil said to him, 'To you I will give their glory and all this authority, for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."
Jesus knew there were no short-cuts. Those promising an easy way out, are selling nothing but dust. The only way to change humanity is from the inside. Jesus showed us what that looks like. He lived our life and died our death in order to make new life possible. We worship and serve God because he alone infuses our dusty souls with living water, slowly re-ordering our characters to reflect the richness of the earth out of which God shaped us.
Sometimes I imagine a different world.
A world in which there is no pain,
no child refugees, no natural disasters,
no war, or hunger or suffering.
I imagine, and I wonder:
Why can't we have a world like that?
If I can imagine it why can't you?
They tell me there's a fancy word for my wondering.
I don't care so much for fancy words.
I just want someone to tell me how to make it stop.
The pain, that is.
How do I stop it?
Will it stop if I stop believing in you?
I tried that once, but it didn't work.
It still hurt, only I had no one to talk to about it.
I guess what I'd really like, Lord, is the power to change things.
Can you do that? Can you change...me?
I imagine that you can.