First of all, do NOT let this post throw off your Lent plans. That’s not my intention, nor do I think I am important enough to change anyone’s mind about anything. I don’t want to discourage anyone from participating in any time of repentance, commitment, or a deeper focus on the the person of God.
This is just my viewpoint, right now … today. The funny thing about perspective is that it can always change. You just have to move a little . . .
Recently I posted a thought on my twitter and facebook that stated Maybe we should reverse Lent. You know, ignore God for 40 days, and THEN humble ourselves and pray for the other 325…
This garnered a few comments and an “ouch” or two.
But I’m really thinking about this differently this year. No, I’m not advocating to ignore God for Lent! My point is that our current culture really tends to ignore Him in everything except tradition and ritual.
For some reason, and I think I know what it is, tradition and ritual have once again replaced relationship.
We’ve come full circle. Things are little different now than when Jesus first came to us incarnate. The only real difference is that we now have a definition of freedom that didn’t exist then, and this has caused us to feel free to live whatever way we want to live . . . oh, and to keep the traditions, of course.
Our churches are filled to overflowing on Christmas Eve, Easter, Holy Week, and yes … Ash Wednesday. Where are we the rest of the year? Where is our commitment on February 2nd, or the Fifth Sunday of May?
This isn’t about church attendance. This is about being part of the Body of Christ.
Last Tuesday, I spent time, as I always do, with our TeenFire youth group. We have reserved a large gym in our town, and we play basketball and volleyball, listen to loud music, eat pizza or hot dogs, play Wii on a giant white wall, and then gather for the most important part – what we’ve used all of this activity to draw them for – our Word OUT moment (an evangelical message geared for these teens, many of whom are unchurched).
This week, I called them to the bleachers, and gave them my opening mantra, which goes like this . . . “Alright, everyone repeat after me . . . I give you food, fun, and friendship, and YOU give me ten minutes of your time to listen. Listening means that you do not talk, and that you look at me and pay attention to what I’m saying. Capice?”
And they all agree, most of them mouthing the words as I say them.
I did this little routine this week, but with a twist. After I let them know I was beginning (and they DO time me:), I fumbled in my Bible and looked here and there for FIVE MINUTES. Five minutes of me just standing there, reading my Bible and turning pages.
They stayed silent for about 12 seconds. A whisper started up, then one person asked me a question (which I didn’t answer), then two people said they were hungry (we had just eaten), then one guy got up to go get a drink (5 joined him), and before 4 minutes had passed, the gym was in chaos again.
Which proved the point I was about to make, and what I am writing to you now.
Commitment isn’t something you speak. Commitment is something you DO.
Looking at my small town alone, I see (myself included) a group of people trying to either fit in or stand out, and most of us don’t know which one we should be doing. I see us caught in a life of busy-ness, trying to provide for ourselves and our families. I see us reminded occasionally, when a holiday or calendar tradition approaches, that we REALLY should be spending time on the things of God.
So we show up. We say the responsive reading. We speak the words. We smile and nod. We walk forward for Communion. We receive the mark of Lent . . .
But we live unmarked lives.
Nothing changes. In reality, we are just passing through, stopping to look at the sights, but not staying long enough to meet the Savior.
We wear our chains so fashionably. So much so, that they now accessorize our life.
God have mercy on us! I don’t want the above scenario for myself, or anyone else. I want real change and a real Christ. 24 hours per day; 365 days per year.
So . . . I’m doing something unusual, and in a way, paradoxical. I’m giving up Lent for Lent.
I’m leaving the rote and ritualistic for the revelation of a real relationship.
God work in me and through me. I need you so! I repent of my apathy and lack of focus!
Change my heart today . . .
© Copyright Derek Hickman 2011