Agape Meditation Newsletter – Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service for Sunday, August 31, 2014
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”
MT 16: 21-17
Jer 20: 7-9
Ps 63: 2-9
Rom 12: 1-2
Get Behind Me Satan!
Satan is a Hebrew word which means adversary or obstacle. In the Hebrew tradition, Satan is most commonly thought of as existing within us as the inner fears and egoic attachments that try to keep us from the path that God intends for us. In the Christian tradition, Satan is most commonly associated as a personified, external source of temptation – the devil. Whether we perceive Satan as within us or outside of us, the experience is the same – something arising which triggers our fears or flatters our ego so that we are tempted to stray from the path of our highest good, the path God intends for us. In this week’s gospel, Peter acts as the adversary, tempting Jesus to stray from his path. Jesus recognizes in Peter’s words, his own fear of death and the temptation to stray from the path of his truth. Jesus then reminds us that God’s way is not always our way and that we are to trust that what God ordains is in our highest good, even if the path or the outcome seems grim.
How do you recognize the adversary at work in your own life?
Where are you tempted to avoid the path God has laid out for you by judging it as negative?
Spiritual Practices – Recognizing Satan
The first step in avoiding temptation is recognizing its presence. The adversary triggers our fear, our unhealed wounds and tempts us through fame, power, and material wealth. The job of the adversary is to tempt us from the path of our highest good and to imprison us in fear and constriction. The adversary flatters us with delusions of grandeur and tempts us into believing we know what is better for us than God does. A good place to begin to recognize the adversary is through knowledge of the seven core spiritual fears:
- There is not enough (money, safety, power, control, love, sex, things, fame, etc. etc. etc.)
- I have nothing significant to contribute
- I cannot (be and live as my truth)
- I am not loved
- I am not free to express my truth
- I do not know (my truth, my path)
- I am alone (or I can do it alone)
In the coming week, pay attention to when one (or several) of these fears is triggered. Recognize that it is Satan at work, trying to keep you from your path. Then use Jesus’ words to name the adversary and to actively set aside its temptation:
Get behind me Satan!
The most important virtue to cultivate is humility, for it is in being humble that all of the other virtues come to fruition – temperance, fortitude, mercy, love, generosity, and zeal. In cultivating humility, we acknowledge that we are nothing without God and that God knows, better than we do, what is best for us. In living humbly, we surrender our lives to God and to the path of our highest good that only God can know. In living humbly, we trust that even the challenges in our lives and the things that do not seem to be working for the good….are. In humility, we trust that God is working all of our life experiences for the good. Humility compels us to turn to God for guidance and direction and allows us to set aside our own ego attachments, wishes and desires to God’s guidance – no matter how challenging the path might appear. Humility leads to spiritual obedience which leads to the freedom God intends for us.
How are you cultivating the virtue of humility?