The quote above from Matthew 6:13 was stirred by things I’ve been excruciatingly tempted to write in furious and sarcastic reaction to some of the ruinous ideologies being spun and enforced by those in power and by those claiming to be in the know.
But who am I to write about such things? I’m no expert. And how is getting myself all twisted up in a negative, emotional knot going to benefit anybody, including myself? It became obvious, then, to say to God, “Lead me not into that temptation,” or “Please don’t let me go that route, because I could make a horrible mess of things if I do.”
I can see why Jesus coupled “lead us not” with “deliver us from the evil one,” because temptation is the devil’s weapon of choice in messing us up. He used it on Adam and Eve, and again on Jesus – tempting Jesus to feel the need to prove he was the Son of God by magically turning rocks into loaves of bread, by flinging himself off the highest point of the temple wall to be saved by angels, and by grabbing the chance to create a new world order, a great reset that would solve all the world’s problems right away. All excruciatingly tempting.
I feel a pang of sympathy, therefore, for those in rulership and influential positions today, because they face enormous temptations too, having learned from the pandemic how much power they’ve got. They can shut down entire nations’ economies, and through fear and intimidation create compliance to their most draconian decrees. And the wealth they accumulated too, by forcing people to buy online rather than local businesses, and by claiming we’ll only be safe if everyone is injected, the profits from which have been (and still are) astounding.
Think of how tempting it must be, then, for those in government, media, and corporations to believe they have the power of gods. And to realize they can bully, lie, deceive and be hypocrites to their heart’s content, and amazingly get away with it. And if people resist, well that just plays into the hands of those seeking to set up a police state to control our every movement.
Imagine what having that kind of power, therefore, might tempt people into doing, that’s not only dangerous for us but for them too, taking into account Jesus saying “it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom” (Matthew 19:24) – and especially when the rich justify their quest for power and money with moral sounding platitudes.
But in this world it looks like the rich and powerful have got it made. Allowing themselves to be led by temptation, however, is dancing to the devil’s tune. He has them by the nose. And what strength do they have to resist? Do they even want to resist? Which is troubling because King David wrote in Psalm 37:35-36, “I (too) have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found.” One day no one will know these ruthless profiteers of today even existed.
So I have to ask God to not let me fall for the temptation of hating them, because my hate won’t do them any good, or me. What they need, just as desperately as I need it, is the power to see temptation and resist it, because in “resisting the devil he will flee from you,” James 4:7.