REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of March 28, 2021
Live a Christlike Lifestyle: Luke 4:5-8
We are in Week 8 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. Last week we continued examining some of the rules that focus on care for others with the directive to comfort the grieving. This week of Palm Sunday, we will continue our journey down this ancient path by examining Rule 4.20: Live a Christlike Lifestyle.
In all candor, this passage of Scripture is not the first that comes to mind when I consider the topic of living a Christlike lifestyle. In fact, I don’t know that I would have even considered this portion of the temptation of Christ as a key Scripture for the idea of what it means to live a Christlike lifestyle. So, what is Benedict’s motivation in choosing this passage as the foundation of this rule of Christian formation?
In this particular temptation of Jesus by Satan, Satan offers Jesus the world if he will just bow down and worship him. All the fame, all the fortune, all the honor and splendor this world has to offer is laid at Jesus’ feet. Yet, these things have no allure for Jesus. He rebukes Satan and reminds him that only God is worthy of our worship. I think this is the very reason Benedict chooses this passage as the support for this rule of Christian formation—the foundation of living a Christlike lifestyle is centering our worship on God and God alone and valuing him above anything this world has to offer. Sounds easy, right?
While this may sound easy, I think we can all agree that it is easier said than done. If we are truly honest with ourselves and God, our worship of him is not as it should be. We have a tendency to worship the god we want, not the God who is, and Palm Sunday is a perfect time to reflect on this tendency. Have you ever considered that the very people who shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” when Jesus entered Jerusalem were the same ones who shouted, “Crucify him!” just a few days later? Why was there such a change of heart? Why did they turn on Jesus so quickly and viciously? They turned on Jesus because he did not fulfill their expectations. They wanted a king to deliver them from Roman oppression. They wanted a king who would fill their bellies. They wanted a king on their terms, who met their expectations and did their bidding. They were looking for salvation on their terms, not God’s. It is easy to judge them, but I struggle with the same thing. Every Sunday I recite, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” but many times what I really mean is “my kingdom come, my will be done.” I want God on my terms, not his. I’ve already yielded to Satan’s temptation, only I’ve bowed the knee to self.
Philippians 2:1-11 promises us that those of us who are in Christ Jesus have already been given the mind of Christ, a mind centered on loving and obeying the Father as we were created to do. Thus, in order to live a Christlike lifestyle, the key is not behavior modification. The key is emptying ourselves. As Jesus emptied himself to redeem us from our sin, so we, too, must empty ourselves of our expectations and selfish ambitions, so we can be filled up with the love of God and his desires for us. Only then can we worship him as we should and love others as Christ loves us.
- Take time to evaluate your relationship with God. Is your worship of him on your terms or his? Is your worship conditioned his meeting your expectations? What happens to your attitudes towards giving, or church, or worship when life is tough and things seemingly aren’t going your way?
- Review all the things Jesus did to redeem you in Philippians 2:1-11. How does that impact you? What would having that same sort of mind look like in your life? How would it impact your relationships with God and others?
- When is that last time you really took time to contemplate the words of the Lord’s Prayer? The next time you recite this prayer, take time to carefully consider the words. Honestly evaluate your attitude and actions.