Thursday, March 9, 2006

Getting at the Heart of Spirituality

"O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39b)

Ask anyone who has any thought about what Christianity is all about and you might get a variety of answers. Answers might range from subjects such as theology and belief system, to practices such as Scripture reading or worship. And all of these have a place within orthodox Christianity.

But ask me what is at the very heart of Christianity and this verse is it: "not my will but Your will be done". This was at the heart of Jesus' struggle: would he be obedient to the point of death, destruction, torture, humiliation and rejection? This was at the heart of his mission. Without obedience to the point of death on the cross, all the miracles and teachings would have been meaningless.

The struggle is so great that he comes back a second time restating the prayer: "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." This self-denial is at the heart of Lent.

Many people chose to use these 40 days of Lent to "fast" (forego a meal), or "fast" an activity (such as watching tv). Others chose take up an additional burden, such as spiritual reading, extra time in prayer or meditation, or finding ways to serve other people. The purpose of the fasting or the burden-bearing is to use that time and activity to contemplate the sacrifice of Christ for people.

If you take time to ponder Christ's sacrifice as you give up things of significance these next few weeks, or take on additional burdens, let these thoughts, fasts, or burdens be used by God to bring you into conformity with the prayer Jesus prayed. "Not my will but Thy will be done."

Where is the struggle greatest for you right now? Is it in the area of a habit? Is it in the area of a priority? Is it in the area of an attitude? A difficult relationship? Complacency in spirit? Offering forgiveness for past offenses? Accepting a situation in life you'd do just about anything to get rid of?

Let Jesus' prayer be your prayer: "Not my will but Thy will be done."
Let that prayer be like a beacon on your spiritual journey. It will always guide you back to God's will and blessing in your life.

Whenever you're lost, pray it and the Spirit will sustain you, carry you, forgive you, empower you, calm you, embrace you. That prayer is at the heart of Lent. It was at the heart of Jesus' mission. It is the way to the heart of Almighty God.

Grace & peace.

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