“If you call on the Father who, without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear, knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:17-19
At last evening’s Ash Wednesday service, I challenged those present to consider primarily the much more difficult task of what it takes to be a true disciple, a follower, of Christ rather than a generic “Christian” whose claim to allegiance is little more than church membership. Although we still must consider how we have offended our Lord and repent of those short-comings, it will be a much greater challenge to define – and then be able to articulate – our faith and what draws us to the Lord. If we cannot do this for ourselves, we cannot do this for our children and grandchildren. And if we cannot do this at home, we certainly cannot do this in public! And this, of course, is the calling of the Church for it is the very nature of the Holy God revealed in Christ!
I also wonder how our journey through these forty days of Lent might be received if we purposefully count each day of this journey as a gift even as we fast and devote quality time to prayer when we would rather eat or doing something else. Of course we can quote and sing the psalm, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (118:24), but do we consider each day as a genuine gift? Especially if we are facing a particular day we would rather not? That this might be the day when our worst fears are confirmed by medical tests? That this might be the day when our jobs are being eliminated? Or that our working hours (and pay) might be cut?
These things would certainly send us to our knees in prayer, but how often do we go to the Lord in prayer because we see each day (good or potentially bad) as a true gift? The psalmist was surely speaking within this context and declaring the determination of a people redeemed with plenty to be thankful for even if the events of a day reveal nothing but bad news.
This must be the determined mission of the Church in remembering our redemption did not come by “perishable” things but by the blood of Him who is Himself imperishable. So may we be as purposefully focused not on our sins or our failures or our fears – but rather on the Lord’s mercy and His assurance that our weaknesses are truly His strengths!
It is His gift to us, His assurance that as long as we do not give up on Him, He will never give up on us - not because of what we may or may not do but because of who the Lord is. What a truly marvelous gift indeed!