Research by Christian Smith, Handing Down the Faith: How Parents Pass Their Religion on to the Next Generation, shows that Christian and non-Christian parents want the same hope for their newborn children—to grow up “happy and successful”. Now there is nothing wrong with that—but there is something missing. What about the concept of desiring that our children fulfil the purpose God has created them for? We all are unique—we have a different SHAPE (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experience).
Discovering and fulfilling that shape is the purpose of life, from a Jesus perspective. This is what the enemy attacks most.
Jesus was tempted in all ways like we are (Hebrews 4:15). However, I have never been tempted to turn stones into bread or jump off a significant building (Matthew 4:1-10)—so how is this so? The way temptation comes—appetite and protection—are basic needs for all humans. However, the devil’s attacks on Jesus were on the key concepts of human existence: trust, identity and purpose.
In all the temptations Jesus must decide who He will trust. Is His trust built on the circumstances He is in—being hungry, alone and in human form, or does He trust God? Jesus chooses to trust God and the written Word. Two of the temptations challenge Jesus’ identity, “if you are the Son of God”. At Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit came as a dove and a voice from heaven said, ”this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16,17). Jesus knew who He was, He trusted God’s voice. Jesus had nothing to prove as He knew His identity. In the third temptation the devil assumes the reason that Jesus has come to the earth is to take it back under God’s control. The devil offers an easy way to achieve that purpose: ”bow down and worship him”. Jesus knows His purpose but also knows that this purpose will become reality through God’s way.
All children and adults must decide who they will trust regarding their identity and purpose. Jesus chose to trust God. Trusting God gives us a unique identity and purpose—this is the real reason for living.