The opening line of the gospel reading for the first Sunday in Lent is disturbing to me:
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
We know the story that follows, how Jesus fasted in the desert and resisted the devil’s temptations to turn stones into bread, throw himself from the temple, or worship Satan in exchange for the promise of the kingdoms of the world and all of their splendor. My track record against temptations much less serious than those isn’t very admirable. As Lent begins this year, this has made me realize that perhaps, for me, there’s a fourth temptation in the story which is a better place to start:
Can’t I get by just fine without following Jesus and the Spirit into the Lenten wilderness at all?