As I write this, a strong, cold wind is blowing snow off the local mountains telling us that winter is not quite over. But the season of Lent is quickly approaching, and Ash Wednesday on March 2 signals the confessional beginnings of our journey with Christ to the resurrection.
When I think of the Covid-19 restrictions we are still under compared with the restrictions of the early Christians under Roman rule, they seem so much more bearable. Yet, the early Christians who followed Jesus as disciples were committed even while risking all that they had: family ties, their jobs, and in some cases, a comfortable living. What we give up to follow Christ is seemingly mild by comparison.
So, how, in this season of Lent can we make our discipleship more meaningful? Can we commit to a new way of living out our faith? What would that look like? Taking on a new spiritual discipline like prayer, fasting, or reading the Bible more regularly? Or something more communal like volunteering with a community organization like Habitat for Humanity or Hot Meals? What would help you to commit or re-commit to the teachings of Jesus? I know of one that would challenge me. Taking to heart Jesus’ words in Luke 6:27-38. Love your enemies, especially those who persecute you.
In this age of social media and domestic and world turmoil, it is easy to “hate” (or rather, strongly dislike) those who do not think as we do or those who don’t agree with values we hold dear. The challenge (Jesus is good at those) is to love those people no matter what. Because God loves us, even when we are the least loveable. Impatient.
Crabby. Selfish. Annoying. Ill-tempered. And yet, God continues to love us, stay with us, believe in us, and never forsake us. Do you remember in Matthew 14:14 when Jesus saw “the great crowd and had compassion on them.”? He didn’t know them. And the text tells us that many of them had some kind of affliction, some he could see and some he couldn’t. But he healed them all.
What would it look like if we had the commitment to act in such a way that people would be healed rather than hurt? To speak in such a way that people were uplifted and encouraged (your faith has made you well). To give so that others were helped rather than ignored. What a different world it would be. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see.” And Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”
I remember a popular song from my teen years.
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God as our Father Brothers all are we; let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.
It turns out that the song was written in 1955, not long after our involvement in Korea. Peace was definitely needed all around the world as is still needed today.
I hope that as the spring rains and sunshine warm the land and flowers begin to emerge that you will consider how you might deepen your Christian faith walk with Christ.