And not hide yourself from your own flesh; Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you. –Isaiah 58:1-9
During the 6 weeks of Lent, most Christians will observe the tradition of fasting and reflect on their spirituality. Considered will be abstinence, acts of generosity, and what to do in addition to our normal behavior. All to recog- nize Christ’s sacrifice for us with His death and celebrate His resurrection.
Many times, when we offer sacrifices of time, goodness, or patience, in other words take time to be Christian, we do seem to expect something in return such as an easier path or forgiveness. Isaiah points to this in verses 1-3 quoting the people of Zion questioning why they have fasted and humbled themselves, but God has not favored them. The lesson is timeless regarding spirituality and all too often at the heart of our Christian frailty based on hypocrisy and condition. We try to follow all the rules, but we still suffer and feel abandoned or empty.
It’s ironic that the word “Lent” has a separate derivative in our language to include something given or contributed on condition, a condition that something of equivalence will be returned. We all know nothing we DO would be equivalent or justify Christ’s sacrifice for us, but we do try. Fortunately, effort or trying is an important aspect of our faith and that which enables endurance when the human condition takes hold.
Jesus came to shift the focus from self to others with the ultimate sacrifice. The New Testament being one of faith not works, trust in place of condition. The new wine is for new wineskins, the unshrunk cloth for the new gar- ment. Christ’s unconditional love which is always available to us regardless. Faith and love beyond our circumstanc- es, beyond our inadequacies and beyond the old traditions of Mosaic law. Always available, never tainted, perfect, and pure.
Dear Lord and Christ, thank you for your perfect sacrifice and example of selfless love. Continue to inspire us through faith and example so that while here we can effect positive change. Find your way into our hearts during this season so that our actions reflect your purpose.
ISAIAH 58:1-9A; MATTHEW 9:10-17; PSALM 51:1-10