So, it is the church season of Lent.
Some don’t like Lent because it is too somber, serious or shame filled. Lent should never be a season of shaming, but it can be a time of serious reflection.
The fact of the matter is that we are sinners. We are broken. We choose our way long before God’s way. The image of God within us is marred, distorted and incomplete because of our choices. I get it, we don’t like to be told those things nor do we want to own that part of our lives. Yet, it is the truth.
That is only part of the equation. If we don’t see ourselves as sinners then we don’t need Jesus. Saint Paul reminds us that, “Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6b) If you don’t count yourself among the ungodly, then it is difficult to receive the forgiveness of Jesus not to mention the adoption into God’s family.
Lent is the time to think about our great need for a savior. Lent is a time to face the fact that without Jesus we would be totally lost. Lent can be a time of great joy because we are reminded of God’s mercy towards the broken, lost and forsaken (us).
When we start playing the comparison game, we lose perspective. Remember when Jesus told the story of the Pharisee (religious leader) and the tax collector (despised) who went to pray? The Pharisee started his prayer this way, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11).
This guy thought, “Well, I am not so bad, compared to other people.” God isn’t grading on the curve. We all need what Jesus offers.
The culturally despised tax collector approached God, “He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” (Luke 18:12)
Clearly, we need to take the approach of the tax collector. This isn’t just my opinion, Jesus thinks so too.
Jesus said, “I tell you that this man (the tax collector), rather than the other (the Pharisee), went home justified (accepted) before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14
- The Church takes 40 days to consider our need for what Jesus offers during Lent.
- Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness contemplating and being tempted.
- The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness attempting to be faithful after turning their back on God’s promises.
40 is a number of testing and trial in the Bible. I don’t think we are being tested by God but I do believe that Lent is the time to wrestle with our misperceptions about ourselves. If we engage, we will celebrate Good Friday and Easter morning with greater appreciation, greater joy and greater assurance of Jesus’ love in our lives. Amen.