Pause for thought in Lent (first published in the Sol Times 9th March 2018)
We do of course all like to be popular and necessarily therefore many of us are sometimes tempted to pull off some sort of stunt to grab attention. Trouble is however, that as I’ve often noticed from watching television ads, there are times when a dramatic performance can actually detract from the ad itself, leaving me remembering the advert, but having no idea what product was actually being advertised.
So Jesus, during his 40-day period in the Wilderness, which as mentioned before, we Christians remember during this period of Lent, similarly faced the temptation to use a dramatic stunt to get folk to notice him. So, we’re told Satan suggested he should turn stones into bread or throw himself from the top of the highest building in the area and walk away unscathed. Some publicity-stunt that one; bound to make people sit up and take notice! But Jesus rightly rejected that option as one that would lead people to believe in and follow him for all the wrong reasons, remembering the stunt but completely missing the point of his message.
And how often, sometimes in very subtle guise, we who claim to serve him find ourselves tempted to use the power of his Holy Spirit to glorify ourselves rather than Jesus Christ, our Lord and master. It’s so easy to speak or write aiming to please others, hoping they’ll think well of me, whereas my task as a Christian is to make much of Christ and nothing of myself. For as John the Baptist remarked, “He must increase whilst I decrease.” So whenever called upon to act, speak or write on His behalf, I always pray to be spared that temptation, using the words of a hymn learnt years ago: “Not I, but Christ, be honoured, loved, exalted. Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known and heard: Not I, but Christ, in every look and action: Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word”. For if I leave others with a clear impression of myself and little of Jesus, then I have failed; whereas if from my words or actions others learn of Him, but little of myself, then indeed I have succeeded in my task.