â€œWounded or Brokenâ€
No doubt you have read in the papers of the extraordinary allegations of the amount of football clubs in both Aussie Rules and Rugby League being accused of using performance enhancing drugs. It has been like an avalanche and I wonder, if the amount of people and clubs involved is proven correct, just what will the authorities do? Weâ€™ve seen in previous yearâ€™s clubs having been stripped of past premierships because they have broken the salary cap, so what do the authorities do in this situation?
Firstly I must say, at the time of writing this these allegations have not been proven, but if they are, with whole clubs involved, I have to wonder if the players even knew what they were being given was wrong.
Who knows? But I do know that we are all tempted when something we desire most, is placed before us in arms reach.
In years past a friend of mine visited his client who raced greyhounds. At the conclusion of their business talks and being shown around his clients personal greyhound racing track he asked of his training methods and was told that when the trainer wanted to â€œget a dog upâ€, he would tie a real cat to the lure, so that in practice when the dog caught up to it, there would be a fierce and deadly confrontation. Then on race day-the dog was primed to win thinking that is was still going to chase a real cat. After my friend questioned his training methods the trainer simply said â€œthat if I want firsts and not fourths, thatâ€™s what I have to do.
The problem with temptation is that it can be very subtle and we can self-justify it. Every oneâ€™s doing it, itâ€™s not hurting anyone or itâ€™s not a big deal. And that may be the so at the time, but just like someone embezzling their employer or meddling with addictive substances, it often starts out small- but ends big to where the person looks in the mirror, trapped, disgusted and asks â€œhow did it come to thisâ€. Many become wounded and live with those consequences, the guilt, self-pity and anger for the remainder of their lives. And some are broken, and even contemplate taking their lives to end it.
And thatâ€™s the dark sides plan, to wound and crush so that our eyes are taken of Christ and to offer earthly alternatives that seduce and seem logical. Yet amongst all our errors and self- seeking, Christ offers life. While we walk with our wounds, he carries us and when broken, he doesnâ€™t offer death, but life.
When I was very young I was aware of the trauma Jesus suffered but I used to think â€œhow life changing it would be to know for sure like Jesus did, of the guarantee of going to heavenâ€. I would think if I knew that as a certainty I wouldnâ€™t have to worry about living up to expectations, worry about what people thought and be just free to simply help others and not worry about my stuff. I thought if only I knew it for sure, I would be free of myselfâ€.
Now I look at myself, the accumulation of sins-this ogre of a person and only wish I had the heart of that little boy. It seems the older Iâ€™ve got, the more aware of myself Iâ€™ve become-and it isnâ€™t nice and I donâ€™t like it. I have seemed to get worse, not better. Yet ironically, in that, somehow against all logic I have come to know the truth. That in my wounds of sin and brokenness, that one thing I used to think- that if I only knew for sure I would wake up in heaven after my last day has been answered. Not answered by human thought, but answered by Christ.
Christ who in todayâ€™s Gospel when after his baptism is taken to the wilderness to suffer and be tempted. Like when we are wounded and tempted so was Jesus. When he was hungry and starving he is tempted to use his powers to feed himself. He is offered the logical human way of saving his people by coming as a warrior king. And is told the truth, that he has the powers of heaven to do it. All things offered are logical to human thought. Yet Jesus answers with scripture to deny his tempter. Answers which are illogical to human thought so that he can achieve the most unhuman thing that the world has ever heard. That regardless of your place in the world, regardless of your trailer load of moments that you have fell too, he says believe in me-that I have come to bring forgiveness. Because I feel the sorrow and anger you carry. I weep because I know the truth and I only want you to know the truth-that you can live life knowing that you will be with me on your last day. I do not lie, I came to bring you forgiveness, you, you a sinner-I forgive you.
I have beaten sin and death for you. So lay your burdens at my feet-for you are free. Live your life. Live your life knowing that when it doesnâ€™t seem possible-that you are saved. Live your life knowing that when it seems life is truly a blessing-enjoy it without guilt, and know that you are saved.
In regards to those sporting allegationâ€™s I mentioned earlier. The one that I particularly noted was that some individuals were given these performance enhancing drugs by people with the purpose of then blackmailing them into acting as they wish on the sporting field so that they could place informed betting on the games.
Attacking one area to get at another. Using something that they know the person wants more than anything to trap them is not knew and is the tool of Godâ€™s opponent. Itâ€™s a trap to make us believe in our circumstances and our feelings up and against what Christ tells us. The forces of darkness tempt us, and then when we succumb, accuse us. Or said better, tells us the truth-that we have failed God by breaking his law.
He uses scripture to assault even the most knowledgeable bible scholar with the truth, that they-that we have failed, and that in knowing that his allegations are true, we become wounded. Wounded that we die a slow death when we start thinking that our circumstances and feelings are the basis of our logic-and that in that logic we are beyond our Lordâ€™s forgiveness and salvation. Or wounded and like a trapped animal and fight back and try and win our place in heaven back with our good deeds and pious lives.
Wounded in our lives we fight back-fight fire with fire. Make our own rules based on our situations and feelings. Or wounded as the boat takes on water and simply resign to the fact and go down with the ship. This happens in our individual lives and in the life of the church. These attacks are not of flesh and blood. These are spiritual attacks to wound both people and the church and mislead them away from the truth. To show our situation to us to cause a re-action based on ourselves and our society that leads us away from the truth, away from the words of our Lord and Saviour.
Jesus, fully divine yet fully human in the desert was offered by the devil using scripture, a way out. Whatâ€™s more a human logical way out. Yet Jesus who felt pain, temptation, hunger, thirst and all the tribulations we suffer withstood and answered not from his human self, but from the word of God. To instead of falling to the situation at hand, called on the word of God for the answer.
Jesus trusting in his Fathers words bore his cross to the end to bring to the world the truth of his Fathers love. His love that we cannot fully understand. His love that is illogical to human thought. His love that the devil hides behind our human feelings, failures and wounds.
His attacks to hide and distort the truth are particularly strong against those in Christ, and those coming to Christ. It is a fierce fight that we cannot fight against with our thoughts. It can only be fought against by relying upon what Christ has told us, regardless of how we see ourselves.
The devil tells us of what we know of ourselves while hiding the truth of Christ. Jesus tells us the truth of himself that overshadows what we know of ourselves.
Jesus says be baptised and believe and you are saved-yet human logic is played on to question this.
Jesus says I accept you as you are. I have brought you forgiveness and salvation-yet human logic says it canâ€™t be that easy.
And finally our human logic is right, because it wasnâ€™t easy. Was it easy for the Father to see the pain His sinless son endured? Was it easy for Jesus to not call down the angels when on the cross? Is it easy for our Saviour to see those he loves still suffering in not knowing the truth?
The forgiveness and salvation we have been given is no cheap grace-it came at a great cost. At the cost of Jesus Christ the living God who dared trust the truth of his Father and not that of human thoughts.
Jesus the Saviour who asks we not base the truth on our own understandings, situations or doubts, but on what he has done for us. To fight worldly human truths with his truth by promising that:
I see your afflictions, sin and your pain. I see your longing soul and the paths the destroyer has taken you. But I have taken on myself your weaknesses. When you cry out to me I save you in your distress. Come unto me all that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
For when you were enemies, you were reconciled to my Father in my death, and being reconciled in me you have been saved. Trust in me with all your heart and not your own understanding or feelings, for I tell you the truth:
I have delivered your soul from the battle that was against you and delivered you from the hands of the wicked and sanctify you with the truth, that I died for you and no one will ever take you from me.
So be strong and of good courage, fear not nor be afraid for I go with you and will not forsake you or fail you. Should you fall, I will pick you up. You are mine and where I am, you to shall be also.