Today’s the day! Losing the Fig Leaf is published today! Click here for more information.
Here is today’s extract, continuing our look at the ‘tree’ of Power. The final part of the chapter will be published here tomorrow.
What about Jesus?
So how did Jesus, the perfect image of God in humanity, identify Himself? What did He do when things weren’t going His way? How did He respond? Did He exert His power to retain control?
One thing that is certain is that Jesus was always self-controlled. He never allowed His personal wants and desires to get the better of Him, and He never manipulated any situation for His own benefit. His concern was always for those around Him.
Jesus was immensely powerful. But He never used His power for His own ends. He was brilliantly clever with words, yet He never used them to belittle anyone. Neither did He just go along with the majority for the sake of an easy life. Jesus wasn’t a people pleaser; He was a God pleaser.
As the Son of God, Jesus could easily have commanded respect wherever He went, from everyone He met. Many, of course, did love and respect Him, but many did not, and eventually these people wanted to kill Him.
How do we respond when we think people don’t like us? I know I have a habit of doing everything I can to try to make people like me: there is an inbuilt need in me, as there is in all of us, to be liked and to feel accepted. If I feel that I am not liked, that must mean I am not a good person, that I am lacking in some way. It makes me doubt my worth.
Jesus did not allow Himself to be bothered by what other people thought of Him, and He did not try to find His identity in what He did, whether that was His work – most likely as a carpenter – or His ministry as a teacher and healer.
Before His ministry had even started, Jesus’ identity was questioned. In the desert, immediately after His baptism, the devil tested Him: ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread’ (Luke 4:3). Are you really who you say you are? Prove it!
Jesus was also tempted by food, not fruit as Adam and Eve were, but bread. He had been fasting in the desert for 40 days by this time so He would have been feeling very hungry and weak. As a human being, Jesus was subject to the same physical needs as the rest of us. The devil often targets our basic human needs and desires; he knows where we are vulnerable. Jesus had the opportunity here not only to change His circumstances, but also to prove who He was – to prove His power. But He resisted the temptation. His response? ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone”‘ (Luke 4:4).
Of course, there was so much more at stake here than just Jesus’ physical hunger. But the point I want to make is that Jesus knew who He was, and God knew who He was, and Jesus didn’t feel that He needed to prove it to anyone. He didn’t have to do anything to prove who He was: He was secure in the knowledge that He was the Son of God, and that was enough for Him. It didn’t matter to Him what the devil – or anyone else for that matter – thought of Him.
When I am faced with the temptation to prove that I am capable of doing a particular thing, or when I feel that I am being compared with someone else and don’t want to be found wanting, it can be very hard to remember that I am a child of God, and I don’t have to do anything to prove myself. I am a daughter of God. You, too, are a son or a daughter of God, and we don’t have to do anything to earn it or to prove it. We are loved and accepted just as we are.
Losing the Fig Leaf by Nicki Copeland is published by Instant Apostle today, Thursday 1st October 2015 and is available from Christian retailers and online sellers. Order from Amazon in print or on Kindle here.