Sunday, March 25, 2007

Practicing the Virtuous Life - Thinking it Through

Reflection Question: So, why do you think Jesus did not yield to any of the temptations put before him?


Lydia said...

I was taught in church that he didn't yield because he was God and, as such, could never sin.

That explanation doesn't entirely make sense to me, though: if Jesus could never truly give in to temptation, was what he experienced really temptation?

Jemila Monroe said...

I hear you Lydia,

I was taught that he *could* sin but wouldn't because of God's character. That always seemed sort of simplistic/mental gymnasticsy to me.

I also don't have clarity about the line between just being human and sin. In another words, what is sin anyway? I am not at all convinced that it can be reduced to a list of dos and don'ts.

I had a great supervisor for CPE who said when you see something that the church labels sin, read sign -- what underlying pain is the sin pointing to? And so I'm not sure where the line is between sin and sickness, and more convinced than ever that compassion essential, both toward ourselves and others.

Nancy said...

Good points Lydia and Jemila. If Jesus was also human, then Jesus would have to have felt what it was like to be tempted. I would think being dual in nature would have created a huge amount of tension inside Jesus. Finally, maybe if we look at each individual temptation we get more than a list of do's and don'ts...maybe we can get some insights into something more like attitudes or states of pride or hunger for power that are more deadly to the heart and soul than checklists. Anyway...just a couple of thoughts. I'm not getting undistracted time right now and am going to have to stop. : )

Amy said...

Lydia and Jemila, I was taught similar views of Jesus' temptation growing up. It's difficult to imagine the "Son of God" being truly tempted, at least in the thought process I was raised in.

Jemila, I reall like your thought about sin. Are our outward actions a reflection of our broken, sinful nature or do they stand alone. I'm with you that sin is more than a list of dos and don'ts.

In that case, though, what becomes of the question here? Was Jesus born with this broken nature? How can Jesus be fully God and yet exhibit the broken nature of humanity. Was Jesus somehow in the midst of his humanity very aware of God's love and his place in the universe in a different way than we are?

I wish I had an answer, but the more I think about it, the less I'm understanding about this dichotomy.

Jemila Monroe said...

It seems we are both profoundly moved and profoundly ambivalent about "the human condition." There seems to be something at once broken and beautiful and genuine in our "humanness" that is the stuff of nobility, tragedy, drama and stories of healing and redemption.

I think alot of what leads to sin is our ways of coping with natural survival instincts that either infringe on someone else's wellbeing or are maladaptive for the actual situation facing us. Sometimes what is natural is not what is healing and loving our enemies (which may cost our lives but may also turn our enemy into our friend.)

What is "sin nature?" Is it when we let our wounds, fears and survival instincts consume us, rather than acknowledging them and directing our hearts to God and opening to love even when it costs us our security or pride or everything?

If it is the latter, than perhaps Jesus was able to participate in our brokenness without partaking of sin.

Amy said...

Jemila, I really like that way of looking at it and it makes a lot of sense to me.

I think that's why Jesus focus took us from the idea of externally following the law to taking that law into our hearts, an inner attitude.

And then there's the understanding of humanity being made in God's image. I wonder how that might figure into this discussion. Maybe in human form, Jesus more fully realized this divine reflection in which he was created and as such, was able to participate in the brokenness without the bagage that comes with it.

Hmmm...I don't think I have any good answer, but I'm so enjoying thinking about it!

nir said...

I think that although as broken as we are, he also had the reality of his relationship with God to help him choose correctly. He knew God loved and cared for him, and he knew his place as God's son.

I also think he could have sinned if he wanted to. He didn't see any reason to. It would have negated the whole reason he was here. If you're cleaning the floor, you don't dump black paint all over. Sure, he was tempted. It says so in the Bible. Sure, he's God's son, with his spirit in him, just as we have. But he didn't sin.

I don't completely understand what and how much Jesus knew. Some say he was a person with God's spirit in him. Some say he was God in a human body. I just know the man could stand in front of his worst enemies and dare them to say he had sin in him and they couldn't say a thing.