Saturday, February 24, 2007

Abide

This week Christians all over the world began a journey - a journey toward the cross. Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, which officially begins the Christian season of Lent. Regardless of what "brand" of Christianity you might align with or whether you align with a Christian community at all, there are many misconceptions floating around out there about the practices that surround this season. Some people have the misguided notion that it is all about personal piety or giving up something that we enjoy to prove our devotion. Nothing could be further from the essence of this time for Christ-followers. Our personal piety is certainly a part of everything we do as a disciple, but to attempt a demonstration of our devotion only demonstrates a misunderstanding on our part.

Lent has little to do with us - it has everything to do with Christ! It is a time in which we embark on the journey with Christ toward the cross. We experience the way of suffering with Him that we might know the reality of resurrection life. As Paul says in his letter to the Philippians: "10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:10-14)

So what is the goal of this journey? To abide in Jesus. Abide in me as I abide in you. I've often puzzled about just what this means. The Greek word meno along with the English word that we use abide both have further connotations beyond simply being present. These words also imply persistence, enduring and tenacious perseverance, or even dwelling. It is our ceaseless and persistent orientation toward Jesus, our dwelling in Him as He dwells in us. Not that I have it all figured out...far from it, the Mystery is always beyond us, but there is a deep significance in this call to abide. It is impossible without intentionally following after Him. That is why we set aside this time to journey with Him through the wilderness on the way to Jerusalem, where He faces every opposition and ultimately confronts Death face to face, that we might truly know the depths of resurrection life. Whether you give up anything or fast during these days - however you practice the indwelling, it is my prayer that you join me on the Way. Blessings ~ RLS

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Richard--just wanted to let you know that I am still reading and enjoying!

Richard Schneberger said...

Thanks Monty...I read your blog regularly as well, it is one of the few that I read on a regular basis. I'm still learning how to best communicate via the blog and growing as I engage in the struggle, but that's why we talk about process and telos...it is a relational, dynamic, moving sort of thing, which can be unsettling at times, but I usually find that it is comforting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Richard..I'll be back!

David Todd said...

I grew up Episcopalian in New England. We considered ourselves "English Catholics", as opposed to Roman Catholics. We observed Lent rigorously (I almost said religiously, but duh!). Yet, the only thing it was about was giving up something as a sacrifice. So, if my layman's experience is any indication, those who observe Lent really don't understand it.