Lent is a time when we prepare our hearts and lives for the moment of Easter. A time when we recommit to Jesus and ponder our faith journey to see where we are and where we want to go. We remember what God did in Jesus and what Jesus did in us. As part of our Lent journey, we may give up something or do something, sometimes both, sometimes neither. With Lent, we can deepen and rediscover what faith is about, embrace hope and love, and experience mystery and joy. Lent usually seen as tough time, yet it doesn’t have to be that way. We can and should find times to be at peace and be joyous.
How is your Lent season going so far?
For me, this Lent season has been both arduous and exhilarating. I have had moments of happiness, wonder, and love and moments of sadness, struggle, and confusion. Sometimes in the same day. Days after getting the diagnosis of Sharko foot, I found out that I have been accepted at the University of Dubuque. Good and bad intermingle in our journeys.
In life, we encounter both good and bad. With every victory comes defeat and with every storm cloud sunshine. We get good news and in the moment later, we discover something wrong. The bible comments on this. In the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Ecclesiastes and Jesus in Matthew 6 discusses this aspect too when we says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?”
Jesus knows that in life, we will encounter stormy days and sunny days, yet He says do not worry. saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Jesus uses lilies of the field and birds of the air to instruct us on how we are meant to live our daily lives. We not to worry about how we will get what we want or eat or clothe ourselves or anything else. We to live humbly and simply, we are not to worry. This can be hard to do and Jesus does not gives us options. He says do this and not that. He says it plainly. If we are to follow Jesus this is how we are to live.
This is really about trusting God not relying on the world or ourselves. Jesus is telling us that God is good wants to protect and sustain us. God is our savior, redeemer, and lover. If I was forced to say the gospel in one sentence, it would this: You are embraced, graced, and blessed powerfully and personally by, though, and in God alone. It is nothing you could ever earn, work towards, or earn, but it ours free and clear already. Not something, that happens after we die in some far off celestial garden, but here and now. Eternal life begins here and now stretching far beyond what we can comprehend.
Jesus sums up this section of the Sermon on the Mount by saying, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” He is telling us not to worry but to seek God. He telling us not fret and toil but to seek God. He is telling us not to seek tomorrow but to seek God.
What does it mean to seek God first?
We must understand clearly what Jesus means by God, by his kingdom and his righteousness.
God spoken of in scripture and the Christian tradition, the God I believe in, the God who is the Father of Jesus and the lover of all of us is not a supernatural being somewhere outside of the universe, but a mystery (The Mystery) that is the depth and foundation of all of reality. If we seek Him, His Kingdom, and His righteousness than our life and every life we touch will be transformed and what seemed impossible will become possible.
We are to make God’s sovereign rule, and a right relationship with Him, the highest priority in life. We are to make our relationship with God the central focus and purpose of our life. God does not force us to be anything we were not meant to be, but loves us into our true self. Worry is inconsistent with this priority; it doubts the sovereignty or goodness of God and distracts from the true goals of life. God will meet all the needs of those who risk all for Him. God does not do this because we risk or for anything we do, but because God is love and loved us first. God’s love transforms and empowers us to live the grand epic of following Jesus.
Three things help with this. The first is reflection—we must read the bible, listen to our religious leaders, our thoughts and concerns and reflect deeply on them. This is what it means to love God with our entire mind. The second is passion for God and doing God’s will—discipleship and personal transformation is what it means to love God with all our heart. The third is loving and serving others, which is what it means to love God with all our soul.
Grace and Peace
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