Lent is a serious time in the church year, but it is also a beautiful time. This season of reflection on death and sin prepares us for the Easter season of celebrating the resurrecting power of God's love. I have spent way too much time living like Lent is the end of the story.
If someone were to ask me what my biggest fear has been for most of my life, I'd have to say it has been God. The overarching theological framework I was presented in the churches I grew up in was terrifying for a quiet kid like me. Guilt and shame enveloped me as I bought into the story that I was so worthless, and that God was so cruel, that I actually deserved to literally be burned alive forever. And as I read today's passage, the first line keeps haunting me: "For they reasoned unsoundly..."
In the second chapter of the Wisdom of Solomon we are told about a group of ungodly people who persecute a righteous man. Most of what we hear from them are their plans to ambush and harm this righteous person. It is awful stuff, but I can’t help but feel sorry for them and even identify with them in some ways.
What is the cause of this life of destruction that the ungodly have chosen? We are told that “they reasoned unsoundly.” In the first verse, we see that they have a hopeless and dark view of reality and their place in it. And the rest of the passage shows us the path of destruction and violence this view of reality leads them to take.
I, too, have reasoned unsoundly about the ways things are. The God I was presented with as a boy was a shadowy figure, and at my quietest and most honest moments, I was terrified of God. But here is what is helping me move out of my never-ending season of Lent: to see Jesus is to see God. The greatest news I’ve ever heard is that Jesus doesn’t look anything like the God that terrified and tormented me.
This Lent, and for the rest of my life, my prayer is that Jesus will continue to show me how I have reasoned unsoundly about who God is and what God thinks of me. I pray that all of us can let go of the harmful views of God we carry as we look into the tender and compassionate face of Jesus Christ.
Easter is coming and I can’t wait.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:14-21).
Image Caption: End of Day (2013)