St Giles Online
Fear of Missing Out
This month, Rev. Chris Smaling reflects on the journey of Lent:
Lent has begun again and many times I have been asked: “So what are you giving up?”. Lent. All about giving up, missing out, leaving off and resisting. Our reading on the first Sunday of Lent (Matthew 4: 1-11) recalls Jesus’ time in the wilderness, after His baptism, where he is tempted by the devil. Here we have a similar theme, the devil is sneaky, talking about Jesus’ loss of or lack of things.
“You must be hungry”, “You’re missing out”,” Just one loaf, surely that can’t hurt…”
Temptation is always in our path. We are surrounded by images and advertising. These messages plant seeds, suggest to us that all would be well, or at least a little better, if only...
“You must be hungry”, “You’re missing out”,” Just one can’t hurt…”
Sometimes these messages are so persuasive, we didn’t even know we were missing out or needed one of those until we saw the advert on Facebook! But are these things really the answer? It’s not that possessions or experiences, in themselves, are bad or sinful; but so often we expect too much from them. They’re great while they last. Satisfying in the moment; but will they really sustain us long term? Is what’s presented as the answer to all our problems really the answer, all it is hyped up to be?
What looks like the answer today might not quite live up to our expectations further down the line. These things just don’t endure. Soon enough I’m looking for the next solution. So, back to the wilderness…
Jesus shows us the key to resisting temptation is finding our identity in our relationship with God. He doesn’t deny he is hungry, but instead He says, “it is written”. In other words, God says.
Like Jesus we are God’s children, our identity is complete when we are secure in that. If we hold on to this fact, we may be less likely to succumb to the various pressures that try to tempt us. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever be hungry; it just means we look in a different place for the solution.
And when we do get it wrong? When the tempter gets the better of us? Well, that’s not the end of the story either. God says we are forgiven, we are complete, God says I make you whole.
Lent is not about showing us what’s missing, what we are lacking or how for or often we fall short. It’s not simply about showing up our failings and telling us we don’t measure up. Yes, Lent is an opportunity to reflect on where I am being called, what I need for that journey and how far I have to go, but the Good News is that we are walking towards Easter. Lent is not a destination it is the path. It can be difficult at times and may be littered with temptation. But it is the path that we walk in faith, with Jesus, through the wilderness and on to the promised land.