Session 1 Reflection

Welcome to the first reflection of our online Lenten iStudy. As we get started here, I’d encourage you to leave a comment below with your name and what you’re hoping to get out of this Bible study during this period of Lent. Perhaps it would be helpful to share if you’ve decided to give something up, or taking something on, for Lent this year. That way we can join together and support one another through this journey of Lent.

I hope you’ve all had a chance to go through and read the materials from Session 1. If not, why don’t you go here (the password for the page is lentenstudy), download it, and read the materials. Then come back and join us for the discussion.

Great. Welcome back. Below is a clip of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. It’s not from The Last Temptation of Christ, but from the 2010 version of “Jesus” (with Jeremy Sisto). It’s another depiction of what the temptation of Christ might have been like in the wilderness:

The author of the study suggests that when it comes to the temptations that faced Jesus, and the temptations that face us, they can be summed up in our desire to be successful, in a sense to put ourselves and our potential and success above anyone or anything else. What do you think about that statement? Do you see that as true in your own life?

When we talk about how to deal with temptation, the study suggests that we look to Christ and see how he dealt with his own temptations in the desert? Christ turned to scripture – to tradition – to the core of who he was. For those of us who claim to be followers of the way of Jesus (for many, that would mean they would call themselves “Christian”), that should drive everything about who we are and everything about our lives. The author writes:

“To confess Christian faith means that you have been given your central identity. Who you are is defined by the ethics of Jesus. Who you are is defined by the compassion of Jesus. Who you are is defined by the death and life again of Jesus. Of course, the world generally insists that you are defined by what you do for a living, or where you went to school, or your address” (page 4).

What are your thoughts about this statement: “To confess Christian faith means that you have been given your central identity.” Do you believe that being a Christian is the core of who you are?

As you go throughout this next week, be thinking about whether you are living in such a way that you’re striving after your own successes, or if there are other priorities in your life that are more driven because of your core identity as a follower in the way of Jesus.

And, as the author shared at the end of the study, what difference would it make in our lives if we constantly “Remembered who we were” as we went about our weeks and interactions with family, friends and others here in our community?

What stood out for you in the study? Did it cause you to think differently about anything?

In closing, please pray this prayer:

Holy God, we thank you for your word to us. Remind us daily of who we are and whose we are. God, in this silence we pray that you would strengthen the other people who are participating in this Lenten iStudy. Help us trust that you go with us wherever we go, whether wandering in the wilderness or safely at home. These things we pray through Christ, who knows all our temptations and has shown us a better way to live. Amen.


10 thoughts on “Session 1 Reflection

  1. Adam Walker Cleaveland

    Hey everyone – just wanted to let you know that it’s pretty easy to leave a comment and share your thoughts here on the blog. Just type your comments in the box that says “Leave a Reply” and then put your email address and name (and website, if you have one) in the boxes below that. Your email address will be kept private, and we can have a conversation this way!

    At the very least, if you’re doing the iStudy, it’d be great if you could let us know!

  2. Carolyn

    “be thinking about whether you are living in such a way that you’re striving after your own successes, or if there are other priorities in your life that are more driven because of your core identity as a follower in the way of Jesus.”

    I don’t think I’m a “success driven person” … though maybe I’m taking that too literally (thinking towards success in business/material success). I do think being a Christian has an impact on how I approach the world – the integrity I think I have. (I don’t think you *have* to be Christian to have integrity, but I would hope that Christians strive to have integrity)

    Now I want to ponder what it is I am striving for… or what I would see as “being successful”… and what tempts me away from a path of integrity (which is the path Christ showed us)

    1. Adam Walker Cleaveland

      Carolyn – thanks for your thoughts, and tweak on the “success” versus what you’re “striving” for. I don’t think it has to be in a “business/material” success, but like you said, are you striving for a life of integrity…or are you striving for other things…things that lead us away from the path of integrity…? Good thoughts.

  3. Grant Toneck

    As I was reading this quote really jumped out at me.

    “Diabolos didn’t tempt Jesus with Cuban cigars or single malt Scotch. It wasn’t geisha girls or shady deals. “The one who throws things around” tempted him to forget his identity. And when all is said and done, that’s eternally our most serious temptation as well.”

    The reason it did is because, when thinking about how that fits into my own life, it makes more things seem like temptations than I had thought. The bread was the pathway to changing who Jesus was and what he stands for. It wasn’t just that Jesus was hungry, Diabolos knew that at his core, Jesus would have to change everything in order to eat the bread and satiate his hunger.

    That whole statement about “remember who you are” becomes more poignant in this context. If we remember who we are, at our core, it becomes easier to resist those temptations that we face. Not easy, mind you, just easier….temptation will always be a pushy son of a gun but things like this make it easier to say “No. That’s not who I am.”

    1. Adam Walker Cleaveland

      That’s a great quote Grant…not sure how I missed it the first time through. As you said, there always will be temptations…and hopefully, the more connected we are with WHO we are, with following that path of integrity that Carolyn was mentioning above…hopefully that will also add to making each temptation just a little bit easier to say no to…because we’ll know that’s not WHO we are…

  4. gayle

    Adam, first I want to thank you for this most excellent e-study. I’ve never done one before (showing my age!). I am looking forward to what future weeks will bring…

    I, too, was interested in the writer’s phrase ‘Remember who you are.’ However, being raised in a non-Christian home, that phrase reminded me more of my childhood than of my Christianity, which did not come to me until after college. Of course, I get it, but ‘remembering who you are’ doe not necessarily conjure up religious stability for all of us.

    1. Adam Walker Cleaveland

      Gayle – good point. That phrase could mean a lot of things. My mom, for example, always use to sign her emails to be “Be sweet, kind and considerate.” Now – that’s not necessarily “Christian” – those are just nice things to be.

      So, perhaps a better ‘tweak’ of the statement might be “Remember who God has called you to be” or “Remember who you are in God’s eyes” or something like that. Do you think a tweak like that is more, or less, helpful?

      1. gayle

        I guess we all have our little phrases. I never end a visit or a phone call to my kids / grandkids without saying, “I love you!” They have always done the same. I never heard this growing up, so for me it is imperative to hear it, to say it, to feel it…

        I find the ‘Remember…’ line a bit contrived. To me, all we need is to know that God loves us and to share that love with those in our lives.

  5. Carolyn

    I wonder what each of us would list as our temptations? I’m sure it would be somewhat different for each of us … (Then there’s the whole other topic of what besides temptations leads us away from that “path of integrity”)

    “Remember who you are” … does have a ring of family connections & expectations (ie: behave as is proper from someone in this family?) …. in this case maybe it is as a Child of God / part of the family of Christ?

    For me, “who God calls us to be” or “in God’s eyes” still has God as BEING out there directing us (can you tell I’ve been reading Borg? I personally don’t think God is some external being telling me to do (or be) anything. I have made a choice and given myself a calling to follow this path.)

    So back to the thought of what are my temptations that pull me away from the “Godly Path” …. I can’t say I’m usually tempted to lie, cheat or steal … but I do know I make justifications all the time for doing things.

  6. Shirley D. Patton

    Hi, folks! Shirley here. I’m excited about this new way of interacting with scripture and you all. For years in this church I’ve heard the phrase, “Remember who and whose you are.” The second half of the phrase made the difference to me. It was a reminder that I had given myself to God—free choice, not a compulsion. That I belong. Warts and all. I do struggle with being wholehearted, however. My “temptation” (or one of them!) might be holding something back. Being cautious. Going strong for 80% and then struggling with the last 20%. Losing focus. Getting distracted. So, one of the outcomes I’m hoping for on this lenten journey is to consciously give time to contemplation, silence, and study. It won’t be easy, and I’ll be tempted by busy-ness to fall into the “ruts” that Connie spoke of this morning. But I’m sure I’ll be off to a better start on this path thanks to sharing it with you.


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