Daily Reading for February 10 • The First Sunday in Lent

There are so many difficulties in life that we seem to be engaged in a daily battle just to keep from going under. We struggle to keep on top of our job, maintain our household, take care of our children, cope with bad health, homework, and money problems. None of us is without difficulties, sometimes overwhelming ones. We are often advised to turn to religion for help, and in fact the phrase “Christ is the Answer” has even appeared on a bumper-sticker.

But genuine religion begins by revealing to us that Christ is the answer, not in the sense of lifting all our troubles from us, but in directing us to the place where the right battles are to be fought. He reveals to us where we should be struggling. He does not magically remove us from all strife, but shows us which specific struggles will lead us into a haven.

The situation then is not that there are those with troubles and those without them, but that there are those caught in a whirlpool, going around and around, and those making for shore. Christ is the answer in showing us the direction to take, the place where we are to struggle, if we are to find a way that leads to the kingdom of his Father.

We discover what we ought to struggle with by looking at what he struggled with. He did not calmly inform us of the gateway, but he himself labored and pioneered his way through the place we are to follow. All three synoptic gospels tell us that Jesus was tempted; and all three portray the temptation scene as a gateway through which he passed. Before he began his life’s work of healing and teaching, he had to pass through temptation. Mark only records the fact; Luke and Matthew give the details so as to reveal which specific conflicts or temptations form the gateway. They tell us that there were three specific temptations, concerned with how he should direct his life in order to create a path to lead people into the kingdom.

From Temptation by Diogenes Allen. A Seabury Classic from Church Publishing. Copyright © 2004. Used by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY. www.churchpublishing.org

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