By Susan Russell
As we continue the journey into Lent, we will hear on Sunday the story of God naming and claiming Jesus as “beloved” at his baptism … followed immediately by the forty days of temptation in the wilderness. It is a story that inspired this quote from the Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber:
Identity. It’s always God’s first move. Before we do anything wrong and before we do anything right, God has named and claimed us as God’s own. God’s beloved. But almost immediately, other things try to tell us who we are and to whom we belong: capitalism, the weight-loss industrial complex, our parents, kids at school — they all have a go at telling us who we are. But only God can do that. Everything else is temptation.
Everything else is temptation.
Everything that tells us we are less than, fallen from, short of, not enough of, too much of. All temptation.
Everything that fails to recognize the utter belovedness of every single human being. All temptation.
And so – as we continue the journey into Lent – my prayer is that we might be given the grace to claim our core identity as beloved in order to share that love with a world in such desperate need of it. And be given the grace to resist whatever temptation tries to tell us who we are and to whom we belong. Because only God can do that. Everything else is temptation.