This devotional is a part of devotional series “The Ultimate Rockstar: Parallels Between the Life and Times of Jesus Christ and the Life of an Artist”. For more info, Click here.
Check out part 1 of When the Wait is Heavy here.
Main scripture references: Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13
Scripture to reflect on: Titus 2:11-14
People take a lot of risks to be in the music industry. It’s risky anytime you put yourself out there for people to either love, hate, or be indifferent towards the very thing you put your heart and soul into. While some risks are completely necessary in such an aggressive industry, there are some risks that are prevalent and have unfortunately proven to be the downfall of some of our greatest talents. Let’s talk about them as we look at the next temptation of Christ in the wilderness.
Let’s rewind: Right before Jesus was led into the wilderness, he was publicly baptized by John the Baptist, the greatest hype man of the New Testament (Matthew 3). John the Baptist had been hyping up Jesus to the people for quite some time (“Behold the Light of the World!” “I’m not even fit to tie this man’s shoes!”) so when Jesus finally arrived he was stoked. After he performed the must humbling honor of baptizing Jesus, a voice came from heaven saying “You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” This was a public proclamation, an endorsement if you will, straight from God the Father. Jesus was not just “next”. Jesus was IT and everyone there heard it.
So fast forward to Jesus’s time in the wilderness when Satan hits him with this next temptation:
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Matthew 4:5-7
At first glance, this doesn’t look like any temptation at all does it? “Throw yourself down”? Keep in mind that Jesus was very much a human being. Yes he was King of Kings and Lord of Lords but he wasn’t some fictitious superhero. He couldn’t fly. Also, in the flesh he wasn’t immortal. When he died on the cross he COMPLETELY died on the cross. It was the spirit of God that raised him up. So where exactly lies the temptation?
There is something about being seen as “the next big thing” or “a pretty big deal” (for all my Anchorman fans out there) that makes people want to take risks because they feel invincible. In regards to people who take pride in knowing that they are a child of God, they sometimes feel that no matter how far they may go or what they compromise, God is not going to let them fall to the point where they will “strike their foot against a stone”.
Let me give you an example: I remember one time I was talking to a rapper. He had so much charisma; a natural born leader with a mega watt smile. People just loved him. Although a good guy at heart, he liked to dabble in some pretty risky things that if you want to find them in this industry, you will have no trouble at all. They’ll find you actually. These were things that could quite honestly cost him his life. With a straight face, completely convinced, he told me this: “ I know there are things that God wants me to do, things that I should be doing. I know I’ve been called to preach eventually later in life”. He shuddered at the thought of following in the footsteps of his father, a preacher. “I just have some things I want to do first. God’s not gonna take my life though. He needs me to do his will.”
It sounds a little crazy doesn’t it? A bit prideful right? Yet this is how a lot of us treat the grace of God on a regular basis.
Your being gifted, your being important to this world, your being loved as a child of God? All true. But that is never an excuse to see how far you can go with God’s grace. Satan was basically saying, “Hey if you are really the Son of God, the chosen one, why don’t you throw yourself off the top of this temple. You can basically do whatever you want and God is going to take care of you. No matter how dumb and reckless it is, he’s got you. ” Why does Satan continue to tempt us by taking the word of God and twisting it? Because we keep falling for it. We fall for it in the same way that too many of us as believers believe that since “all things work together for the good of them who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28), then it’s okay to take risks that go against our beliefs to get ahead in this industry. So many of us have compromised the standards of our faith, jumping off of the highest point of the temple (symbolic isn’t it?) to fall towards not a physical death but a spiritual one because we believe that we are entitled to God’s grace saving us by default.
So how did Jesus clap back at this? The scripture that Christ chose is an interesting one. Jesus took it back to Deuteronomy once more and said “It is also written” (as if to say “since we are quoting the bible here”) “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” He referenced Moses’ speech to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 6 when He was instructing them to love and worship God only; to keep him at the forefront of their hearts and minds and to remember not to have any other gods but him. He reminded them of God’s mercy and faithfulness in times of trouble and he also reminded them that God is a jealous God. He was basically saying whether you have made a God of yourself, fame, or success, do not throw yourself off of a cliff for one God with the expectation of God the Father rescuing you. And by all means, do not test him about this.
So how do you keep yourself from taking advantage of God’s grace? By remembering exactly what the grace of God is for.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11
“Zealous for good works” not zealous to wild out. We are all human and yes we all need God’s grace to help us when we mess up. That’s an inevitable part of life but it doesn’t have to be the greater part of your story. Paul said in Romans 6:1-2 “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” Let the opportunities where you really experience God’s amazing grace be the moments where you will have to rely on Him to help you do the extraordinary things that you should be doing; the things that are beyond yourself to do. Those are the risks worth taking.
Part 3 coming soon…