It may look like a spiritual desert out there, but there is living water running deep.
The choice of faithfulness is not binary. When we look back at crossroads, it may seem that there was only one faithful choice we could have made. The word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that God is with us on whichever path we take. If it is a wrong one, God leads us back, or reshapes the path before us.
As much as we would like to have a vaccine against all kinds of sin, some protection against ever taking that first step on a journey of one temptation after another, this fallen state, this human condition, this weakness of the will infects our species... ....As we pray “lead us not into temptation,” that’s not bad advice: Keep your eyes on the cross. Relax, breathe, and walk, one step at a time.
When I come to a passage like the account of the Transfiguration, I have to say I am somewhat at a loss. Other than the survival of an accident, I have had precious few experiences that most people would call a mountaintop experience of God’s presence. The mysticism of the accounts of the Transfiguration don’t really connect with me.
The temptation, when we lift these passages out of their larger story, is to embrace self-sufficiency. If we just try harder, we can do what God says in the law; if we try even harder, we can do what Jesus says in the sermon on the mount. I can’t speak for anyone else, but my track record of just trying harder is not so great.
It’s an idolatrous world out there. The good news of the Gospel is that when we go out into that world as a blessed people, we bring God’s blessings with us.
The good news here is that it is Jesus who takes away the sin of the world, not you and me. It is Jesus who scoops up all the ways that we have fallen short, all the ways that this broken and violent world falls short of God’s intention, all the horrors of war, criminal behavior, illness, and despair, and takes them away. The good news is that forgiveness is not a burden placed upon us, but a gift.