Reasonable Disobedience

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Matthew 4:1-2 (NIV)

I struggle sometimes with remembering that not everything is black and white. The Christian Church has been guilty of this as well. Its message has sometimes been, “Here is the rule, there is no excuse for disobedience.”

Sometimes we treat people as if every decision in their life is simple, “Choose A, not B, and you will get C”. This, of course, is not always true. Life is complex. Every single person on this planet, at this very moment, are where they are because of countless situations, steps, decisions, and even interactions with countless other people. We all recognize that things are not always as simple as they appear.

That is certainly true, but what can also happen, as a result of this realization, is that we may choose to search for justifiable reasons not to obey, or continue a path God has called us to. That is, we have made, “life’s not that simple” into an agreed upon foundation for selfishly justifying poor decisions.

When we read the temptations of Christ in the wilderness, every one of them could easily have been justified.

The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Matthew 4:3 (NIV).

Jesus had fasted for forty day. He had already shown His commitment to the Father, and He was hungry. Certainly, to do something as simple as turn a stone into bread in order to eat would be justifiable and reasonable. After all, He would need His strength. Besides, this was just a fast—a personal decision. As such, what harm could there be in Him choosing to end it then? Yet, Jesus chose not to allow selfish justification to persuade Him.

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.'" Matthew 4:5-6 (NIV)

The world was struggling with their faith. Would it not have been a game changing miracle if the people of the city watched Jesus jump from the temple—the house of God—and God’s angels rescue Him? It would certainly seem reasonable to do this and remove any doubt from anyone watching that He truly is the Messiah, the Son of God! Yet, Jesus chose not to allow selfish justification to persuade Him.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Matthew 4:8-9 (NIV)

Jesus knew that His time on earth would end with His suffering and death. Here the devil offers to give back all of Creation if only Jesus would bow down and worship Him. There would be no need for Him to suffer or die. Creation would be freed from the bondage of the devil and given back to Jesus. This, not only seems reasonable and justifiable, it sounds perfect. Yet, Jesus chose not to allow selfish justification to persuade Him.

Life is complex. If we agree with that, and we are reasonable, then we have to admit that it more complex than we are capable of grasping. God alone knows the fullness of life. God alone can see how decisions will affect the world for the better or for the worse. For that reason, we must put our trust in God alone. We must intentionally quit seeking to justify disobedience, half-hearted worship,