Portrait of a Winner

This specific is usually not the portrait of a winner.  Or is usually which?

Tomorrow begins the season of Lent.  Per the highly recommended Biola Lent Project (a daily offering of art, music, poetry, Scripture, along with also a thoughtful essay, you can get the daily email or add which to your smart phone home-screen to look at daily for free) the tradition of Lent includes six practices: self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial, reading, along with also meditating on God’s word.  We are culturally aware of the denial part (no dessert for six weeks??) although the full picture is usually much richer.  The purpose is usually not to build stamina, gain points with God, look more fit, prove toughness.  The purpose is usually to prepare for the manner in which Jesus modifications the globe.  

Because which’s not a winner-takes-all-by-force manner.  which’s a shockingly unconventional, supra-political world renewal.  which’s why we need inner preparation.  As we move through Mark’s gospel, we are at This specific point in chapter 8.  Jesus’ followers are fixated on free food along with also flashy miracles, envisioning a coup which will eliminate the oppressive Roman domination of their homeland along with also bring them back into their rightful place as BEST.  RULING.  IN CONTROL of the land. The pharisaic approach reminds me of today’s Taliban or Moral Majority–let’s make sure everyone follows the jot along with also tittle of our careful religious structure, let’s get some military along with also legislative control over the offensive personal lives of the citizenry, because which’s what which means to be God’s country.

although Jesus is usually heading towards the cross.  His path to the throne passes through not just the shadow of death, although ACTUAL death, defeat, loss, grief, pain.  He’s not going to lead an army, write brand new laws, win an election, dazzle the crowds, debate the high priest, strike down the corrupt king.  Instead he’s heading straight towards an apparent disaster.  He’s going to change the globe by a sacrifice which defeats evil in a dimension we can’t yet see, along with also reverses the arc of the universe by decay to glory.

This specific is usually a work of subtlety.  which’s not going to feel great much of the time.  which’s going to require gritty perseverance in hard places, exposure to danger, personal loss.  which’s going to keep us out of step with the globe’s winners.  which’s going to require eyes which look beyond the surface, pondering the essentials which make life beautiful:  faith, desire, along with also love.  which’s going to take us on paths where people don’t offer awards; where they question our sanity.  We can’t do which on a steady diet of platitudes along with also superficial half-truths.  We can only endure by Lent-like seasons of inner conditioning.

The end of Lent is usually Resurrection.  There is usually a table, a party, a celebration.  This specific is usually not a faith of perpetual misery . . . instead which is usually a rhythm of fasting which leads to feasting.  although we can’t short-circuit the process, along with also pound our way through to comfort.  which’s what the 1rst century Palestinian Hebrews wanted; which’s what the 21rst century prosperity preachers promise.  although which’s not Jesus’ way.

Let’s pray for a season to examine, ponder, re-set our sights, paint a brand new picture of winning, along with also embrace the way of the cross.

(painting photo by our museum day in London with Julia’s RVA classmates, sadly didn’t capture the artist credit)

Portrait of a Winner

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