Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
Jesus is not going to leave anything undone in the wild. He chooses to have an answer for every offer made to him to leave his name behind and to choose a lesser vocation. He answers—and the work of the Christian is the same.
When the world declares its answers to the racial issues of our time, we answer—with the Word of God and the call to see others as our brothers and sisters and family.
When the world declares its answers to the political issues of our time, we answer—we declare our allegiance to the one true God and defy any political party that makes him a mascot of their ideology.
When the world declares its answers to the sexual issues of our time, we answer—we declare that our bodies and our identity belong to the Lord, and that no narration of a disordered creation will displace his promises to love us and heal us with his restoring affection.
Christians do not have all the answers and, sometimes, we must be silent as the world presses in on us, demanding we say something. Often those taunts come from a polarizing motive, a desire to claim us as part of their percentage or dismiss us as enemies.
But answers we must have, and the Word of God is where we begin. Yes, the Word is nuanced, and must be understood deeply and well, and in light of the whole counsel of the Scriptures. But we are not left to ourselves and the zeitgeist (the “spirit of the age”) of our times. We don’t live in an uncared-for creation, in a loveless, cold, and random universe.
We are beloved, and that is the “answer” Jesus received at his baptism. All his other answers, in the wild and throughout the Gospel stories, were derivatives of this answer: “For God so loved the world, that he gave” (John 3:16). Our God is a giver, and we don’t need the enemy’s distributions to store up for ourselves treasures in this life: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19–20).
We are in love-training, and Jesus, our Master, has preceded us in loving that which the Father loves, gives, and provides for us in this life.
We must answer the spirit of our age, when it creeps into our mind to convince us we own more, need more, want more, and should get more than the Father is giving. We can’t paint a pretty face on greed and call it holy ambition; nor can we fill a baptismal and baptize our consumerism to make it holy.
To want what the Father wants for us; this is what Jesus did, and what the wild will teach us to do if we let it. When the going gets tough, answer the enemy you face. It will shut him down for the next round and leave no room for your heart to wander.
Lord of the Wild, we have often lacked an answer for the enemy’s temptation, and it creates room for us to let him have his way. Teach us to answer—with your Word, your promises, and your vision of the life you intend for a child of God. In Jesus’s name, amen.
What could you begin to practice now in order to better answer the enemy’s temptations later? Are you doing it, or are you planning to start?
For the Awakening,