This space has its roots in the history of how this congregation came to be - a group of Jesus followers inviting others to come and see Christ as well. Once a month, we will bring forth a devotional from years gone by. Today we re-member (put together again in our minds) from thirty years ago in the Lenten Devotional of 1987 - March 27th to be precise:
"When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me."
It is traditional to 'give things up for Lent.' But God challenges us to give up much more than some one thing or one addiction, and for much longer than a few weeks. "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitudes of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians 4:22-24 )
"I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (Romans 12:1-3 )
God wants us to give up our entire selves to Him - forever, not just for a short time. He asks us to remove all our own defenses - to have the attitude of obedience to death - even death on a cross," (Philippians 2:7,8 ), a particularly slow and painful way to go. And we need to go through the same! "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passion and desires." (Galatians 5:24 ) Notice that we do the crucifying, we follow Christ in obedience, we lay ourselves on the altar, we put off the old self. We make the choice.
We also stop looking for an old, childish, inadequate, inaccurate image of God. I personally have wished ver much - in my 'old self' the 'childish' part of me - for what J.B. Phillips in his excellent little book, Your God Is Too Small, calls the 'Heavenly Bosom' type of god, who would protect me from all life's hurts and make it so I would never have to risk my precious feelings, my all-important ego. But that's not what the real God offers.
He asks us, again, to put off our defenses, and then to put on all the armor He supplies and stand firm in the battle (Ephesians 6:10-17 ), to lean not on ourselves - our old selves are, after all, "dead in transgressions and sins: (Ephesians 2:1 ) - but on Him and His power and (what's worse, to me) on each other, on other fallible parts of the Body.
In Sum, God calls us to give up, not just for Lend but for eternity, all strength, all defenses, that do not come from Him, and to embark on a radical new adventure of life, of freedom, of joy, of exhileration - of danger to be sure, but isn't that better than a slow, safe collapse toward death? "...Our Savior, Christ Jesus...abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," (2 Timothy 1:10 ) - so let us remove all trappings of, all desires for, all defenses against death from our existences, and enter, now, upon that eternal life that God gave His Son to provide.
~ Jeff Sargent