During this season of Lent, I have been pondering the changing nature of the church. It seems that over the past thirty plus years that the church has increasingly been struggling with its identity. It is no doubt that society, at least in the US, is moving towards a very individualistic model, where a sense of self is more important than the collective. We see this across the church as more people stop attending worship, and seek individual ways to encounter God. We see this in the division not only in our society but our communities of worship. For me, this hits home in the last two weeks as I have been more consciously aware of the number of times the word “I” seems to come up. Perhaps, it's just a new awareness, but we do appear to focus on ourselves a great deal, and we bring that into the church.
In the eighth chapter of his letter to the Roman’s, Paul says:
“ That attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God.”
I will admit that I can be very self-centered. It’s an unfortunate part of our humanity, but we can live beyond our selfish desires. When we allow ourselves to be receptive to the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit, our lives are transformed, and we live for the benefit and care of others.
As we prepare to wrap-up our Lenten journey and head towards the cross of Christ, let us give up those selfish things that hold us captive to the world. Let us die to ourselves and become Spirit people in whom Christ lives, and his light shines.
Grace and Peace,