Headlines from First Thoughts

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Keeping Secrets

Down here in the real world, it's not the Super Bowl or Super Tuesday, it's Lent. 40 days of slogging through the wilderness of repentance. Secretively. Christians did not make the news again on Wednesday. We were too busy praying for Union University and other tornado-ravaged areas. But for the next few weeks, please don't pay any attention to us. We'd prefer to just go about this business in private.

In Matthew 6, Jesus suggested three practices of the heart that could be verbal icons (to use Charles Talbert's term) into faithful piety. They are giving, praying, and fasting. No doubt Jesus observed their abuse in 1st century Judaism. The public squares were full of the giving for donor recognition, praying at ball games, and fasting for the biggest loser. So Jesus listed them with one condition-- do things that you cannot tell anyone about.

Pray in the closet, and don't come out of it.
Give with such poor communication in your body and organization that your left hand doesn't even feel the right hand.
Fast so that others never recognize it.

No doubt there will be more calls to pray, give, and surrender something over the next 6 weeks or so. But Jesus-- who wasn't much for making headlines-- says, if you pray so much publicly, how long do you need to pray behind closed doors? 7 times, 70 x 7 hours? And if giving is about the IRS and plaques on the wall, how much can you give anonymously this time of year? Can you send the flowers without signing the note? And on the fasting bit, you might need to fast from something chic like email or cell phones. That will certainly inconvenience everyone else-- and they'll know about it. But if you want to do it secretively, try fasting from a sin, addiction, or lust that only you and God know.

Can you keep all that a secret until Easter?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great challange this easter season. I read everyone of your blogs and this is one of the best.
Brock (Strawberry Plains)

Google Search