Recall & Reflect
-by Tim Bias
Our Lenten journey begins this week with Ash Wednesday. Lent is a forty day journey of spiritual preparation. This is a season where we recall and reflect upon God’s redemptive work in and through Jesus Christ.
Part of this journey focuses upon the inner soundness of our spiritual lives. The journey begins with Jesus offering us the following words,
“Be careful that you don’t practice your religion in front of people to draw their
attention. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in
the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I
assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you give to the poor,
don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you may give
to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.
“When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the
synagogues and on the street corners so that people will see them. I assure you,
that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the
door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father
who sees what you do in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-6
Often when our thoughts turn to what is wrong in today’s world and who needs changing, we consider first the terrorists, the bigoted, political hackers, religious extremists, and others made notorious for their broad and well-publicized wrongdoing.
But Jesus is speaking to his followers.
The word spoken here is for those of us who consider ourselves faithful. We are the ones in need of changing. Our ways, our misplaced religious thoughts, and self-focused actions, are displeasing to God.
Jesus spoke against parading our piety outwardly. The descriptions seem bizarre.
- We do not have a brass quartet preceding us down the aisle as we make our offerings.
- We do not take our place at the corners of Grand and Grace Avenues to loudly proclaim our prayers.
- We’re not afflicted with golden tongue orators who push on endlessly at the altar, “thinking that they will be heard for their many words.”
Yet we do not escape the judgment of these words.
The journey begins with an examination of our inner lives. Yet, even starting with self-examination misses the point. Jesus Christ and the cross come first. It is Jesus to whom we look. Jesus is the focus of our spiritual attention.
As another Lenten journey begins this week, let’s journey together through this season. Let’s journey together to the Cross. Let’s gather together at the tomb and let this Lenten season be a transforming experience in our lives. Our focus on the cross and inner lives is a lifetime journey. Perhaps this Lent is a time to start that journey anew.
Prayer for Today
O God, we want to be prepared inwardly to express outwardly our loyalty to you. By your grace give us the faith to examine ourselves in the light of your desires for us and our living in the world. We offer ourselves to you for this journey in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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None of us is perfect, just forgiven.