Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lent: How Not To Wreck It

It's still remarkable to me, how twisted up we people of faith can get things.

We have our eyes opened to see the unmatched, untamed love of an uncontainable God, and still find a way to turn the whole thing into a dead religion.  I'm not sure how it happens...perhaps the insidious call of a human nature that wants to be "righteous", perhaps a fear driven motivation to avoid the ugly excesses of a world gone mad.  Maybe it's a deception dangled by the ancient enemy of our souls.

Perhaps it's all three.  The world. The flesh. The devil.

(Them ain't new concepts, friends.  There is nothing new under the sun.)

Lent is a time to glory in the grace of a wildly beautiful Savior.  Every discipline, sacrifice and self denial ought to be aimed at grasping an ever greater vision of His perfections and His limitless love.

When these things become and end in themselves, the outward practices make men into Pharisees.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."  Mt.23 :25-26

Christ calls us to dance with Him.  To open our self up to the vulnerability of love, with the attached risks of loss, disappointment and trouble.  A relationship with God is the point of Lent, Easter, Christmas...indeed the point of every ordinary day.  Religion is not, and never has been the point.  Jesus Christ had a PASSION.  It was rife with agony, and exploding with "the JOY set before Him."  He did not suffer thus to create "nice" people, people who follow rules and look dapper in their freshly pressed clothes on Easter Sunday.

His wild "hope", (if that's not a heresy), is that His beloved creation will be "liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God."  (That last part is from Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 8 verse 21.

Every work of Lent...fasting, self denial, good works - are all a Pharisaical whitewashing if the ultimate aim is not a passion to know and love Christ, and all He loves, more fully.  But if those motives are in place, even if we don't have them 100% pure and right, we are dancing and not primping.  Liberation, freedom, joy, a life of love.  That's the aim of a breathtakingly beautiful God.

I say these things because I myself need them most of all.  I could and have tried to make myself look better than I am, rather than confessing the pure, lovely grace of Jesus as my banner.  I long to be authentic, and I know you do to.  Sometimes we just need a reminder of what the thing is really all about.  It's far better to fail in our fasting and cry out "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me", than to get it all right for 40 days and miss the point entirely.

Let every effort of Lent be one to draw you toward the love of your Savior.

That's what Easter is all about, Charlie Brown.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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