Yesterday I went to an evangelical Conference in Hershey PA put on by Joyce Meyer Ministries. Joyce Meyer spoke on temptation. This was not a conference about Jewish evangelism, but, I saw many things in her talk that I could apply to the Jews and why they stumble over Christianity. Joyce Meyer is a very real and down to earth speaker, who brings a lot of comedy and energy to her conferences. I found myself laughing often, and in the end, without being aware of it, I learned something. Primarily that no matter what kind of outward life a person leads, they are always imperfect in the inside. As a group, Christians tend to succumb to the temptations that we face. The most striking biblical reference to me is David. He succumbs to the temptations of the flesh, and is punished for it, but, he is called a man after God’s own heart. This shows that the outside and inside are not always showing the same thing. We are all too often tempted and, in falling to the temptation, we feed that tempter making it stronger. Joyce recounted quitting smoking. For a long time after she had kicked the habit, she was tempted to smoke whenever things went wrong, but, she refused to smoke, therefore that temptation eventually starved and died. I think that with the Jewish people, there is a lot of temptation to remain socially acceptable within their own culture, that there is temptation to be riveted to the law, that there is temptation to focus on being good people. There is a lot of temptation between a Jew and a personal relationship with Jesus. These road blocks make it hard to reach a Jew, not necessarily on the intellectual level, but, rather on a spiritual level. There are many Christians who feel as though they can attend themselves into heaven by being church-goers. There are a lot of Christians who believe that they can climb their way to heaven by being work-doers. These are not the worst things to do, but without the faith and the relationship, there is no growth, and they are dead in Christ. With the Jews it is the same, but, they have not only temptation to do good works, they have a cultural and social obligation to do so, therefore they are more likely to be tempted to avoid a relationship with Jesus in favor of “being good people”. This temptation is one of the harder ones to starve because Paul tells us that there are good works set up for each of us by God. So instead the temptation that we must starve is not the temptation to do good, but, the temptation not to believe on God and his gift to us. It is so very tempting to try to win our way into heaven. We must stop feeding that temptation by instead believing on God that He has given us good to do to spread His kingdom, and that we are not doing it for entry, but, for Him. We are not repaying Him, we are doing what he asks of us. We are not living this way because we need to, but because we trust God enough to provide us with a way to do it, and a way to allow him to work through us. We are not working then, God is working through us. That is how we must approach doing good works. We are not being good people, Christ is being good through us.
How challenging is it to find a way to balance these attitudes. Do you find yourself feeling as though you are doing something out of necessity? I do, it is still far more satisfying to find myself channeling Christ’s love through my body. Has anyone else felt this way?