It is a generally expected conclusion these days that, when pursuing a career or task of some kind, we do so “putting our best foot forward.” We throw our hat in the ring on the basis of our perceived strengths. We do so in order to have some sense of “success”, whatever we believe that to be.
The American cult of leadership would heartily concur. Beautiful people with million dollar smiles and multi-million dollar promises titillate and tantalize with their swagger and swank. Projected on screens the size of apartment blocks is their image perhaps twenty times its regular size. Perhaps if the image is big, the message will be commensurate?
If Lent teaches us anything it says that the Jesus Way is the way of the small and forgotten, of humility and subservience, of “failure”, of self-sacrifice and willing brokenness. God in Christ has said that “matter matters.” We are “matter.” We matter – to one another, to ourselves, to the cosmos…to God. And, while we sprawl ourselves all over the Internet and on giant screens of our larger-than-life grasping, Jesus reminds us that the greater statement is made in tears of anguish in a garden, in misunderstanding and feelings of abandonment by those closest to us, through the shrill cries of our interlocutors, the muffled sobs of those held captive by others, the choking cosmos, compassion for enemies lusting after our downfall, silence at our tribunals, acquiescence to our unjust condemnations, submission to our fates….
The Way of Jesus is utterly counterintuitive to all we’ve come to treasure.
When it is no longer about us, it can only then be about something other than us, something much greater. In discovering anew the powerful realities of the Gospel we begin to see not how shiny we are but how meaningful we are to the God of dusty feet; not how strong we are, but how unconvincing; not how significant we are, but how insignificant are our tiny pursuits in light of our belovedness in Christ.
Lent imagines us to be the one cleaning toilets in someone else’s mega-church. It invites us into the spectacle of Rome with our physical eyes closed to the enticements but our spiritual eyes open to the hunger. It challenges us not to build up but to bow down. It puts us in the arena not as spectators but as lion food.
As Lent soon comes to a close with the start of another Holy Week, let us see with new eyes that before an Easter road to glory comes the Lenten ode to courage – courage to face our insecurities, our inconsistencies, our insufficiencies – all met in the tear-crusted eyes of the Son of Man who sees it all, and loves anyway.
Picture of mega-church found here.