From: Jeff Banks
Will this Lent be any different?
I ask myself that question each year, full of enthusiasm and conviction that this time I’ll be able to resist temptation and fast consistently. This time I won’t keep a stash of M&Ms in the cupboard just in case. I won’t watch any episodes of The Crown. Or maybe if I have a long day, I’ll just watch one after dinner. Two at most. Three only if I had to stand packed like a sardine on the Red Line for 30 minutes as they cleared a broken train at Charles/MGH.
If you’re anything like me, then facing temptation is like trying to walk through Trader Joe’s without tasting the free wine and cheese samples. It’s just a sample, right? I can totally say no to that, or at least stop after trying one. And yet many times I seem to get in my car with enough wine and cheese to host a party every day that week.
I’m learning that I can’t say no to temptation on my own.
Reading Psalm 11 and 1 John 2, I’m struck that the Bible has a different strategy for resisting the lures of the world. David opens by writing, “In the Lord I take refuge.” John tells us that, if we’ve got our ears open to God’s message from the beginning, then we “will abide in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).
Taking refuge. Abiding. That’s different from trying to muster up the strength to just say no. If you’re taking refuge somewhere, then you’re being protected by something, or someone, stronger than you are. If you’re abiding or dwelling in someone’s house, then that person is going to take care of you. Especially if that person is God.
I’m not exactly sure what it means to abide in God, but I think it has to do with obeying him (1 John 2:4), listening to him (1 John 2:5), doing what he did (1 John 2:6), and loving those whom he loves (1 John 2:10). In other words, being in relationship with him and his people, the church. When I’ve made any progress at all in resisting temptation, it’s because others are walking with me as I stumble and get up again, encouraging me to keep going. Relationships make the difference.
This Lent, I’m not going to just say no to temptation, but also abide in the Triune God and take refuge with his people. Join me?
New to Boston and CotC, I’m a soccer-loving, curry-cooking, music-playing campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I blog very occasionally at jeffwbanks.com.