First Tuesday of Lent | Alysia Green
Think back to the time when you were four. No matter what type of community you lived in, be it a city with bustling traffic or a small farming town with tractors and trucks, you had roads. And, when you were four, your parents (if they were the least bit responsible) made sure you held their hand when you crossed one of those roads. They paid close attention to you. Why? I think you know the answer to that. Love. They knew that in order to keep an adventurous, inquisitive, four-year-old alive, they had to pay attention and fix their thoughts on your safety. They could not allow themselves to be distracted—their little one was too important.
Now think with me a bit about the idea of distractions. You might say they’re a bit sneaky, and if we’re not careful, we get swept right up into them. You might even say our culture has chronic distraction disorder. And let’s be honest, we are often most distracted by helpful things—phones, iPads, Facebook, activities, etc. But at the same time, we know that when something is deeply important to us, like holding a child’s hand while crossing the street, we pay attention. And that’s exactly the truth that the Lenten Season rightly reminds us of. During Lent, we vow to sacrifice something we normally enjoy having or doing so that we can 1) refocus our attention on Jesus’ amazing work on the cross and 2) strive to identify with Him in His sacrifice. As you read these four passages today, you’ll quickly note that the Israelites’ attention was swiftly moved from God to idols. You’ll see that the temple officials lost their focus on the importance of God’s house and turned it into a place of selfish money-making. God was angry with them for not striving to pay attention. And rightly so, He is our Holy God, who lovingly created us—and then Jesus left perfection to come to earth as a human, physically experiencing the filth of this sin-trapped world, and then dying with all the sins of the world cast on him. All for us. Why? I think you know the answer to this one, too. Love.
So, what can we do to keep ourselves focused? First, daily admit your brokenness. Even the goodiest of goody-two-shoes are vainly flawed. Cling to your real identity (reread Psalm 45: 11-15—yes, that is a foreshadowing of the church—which hopefully you’re a part of!) Hold on to your Christ-based courage and the hope of the gospel (Hebrews 3:6). And enjoy Jesus for who He is (Psalm 45:2-8). Think of what He has for you in this life, as He enjoys and boasts over you.
As you give up your “idols” for Lent, I ask you to think intentionally about how this helps you fix your thoughts on Jesus and His relationship with you. He doesn’t just want you to think about Him, He desires for you to be deeply, rawly convinced of your importance to Him, and out of that true love, share that core-fulfilling care and tenderness with people.
University Ministries Assistant