We Are Not Called to Be Reasonable

We Are Not Called to Be Reasonable March 2, 2024

Lent is a time for reflection on how far we are from God. 

Fasting is the great reminder to us.   I know because somewhere in the middle of Lent, rationalization sets in whenever I fail at my Lenten resolution.   Those in my circle who have fallen from the faith make a point of arguing, it’s not reasonable.   Why does God want us to sacrifice? How does fasting do anything for the world or you?   What’s the point?   How does not eating chocolate or giving up caffiene or television in any way make you listen to God more?  Can’t you listen to God while you’re eating chocolate or drinking a diet coke –okay, the tv, that’s reasonable that you can’t, but why when there’s all this time in the world, is this time different?

Setting aside time for God must be deliberate.  It’s like date night with your spouse.  You know God loves you. You know your spouse loves you.  God would still love you if you didn’t set aside time, and your spouse would even if you don’t have date night.  However date night is a reminder of the joy of loving one’s husband or wife, joy that gets muted when the cares of the world become the focus of discussion and interactions.   Someone you love, you want to be present to, and waste time with.  The world will demand all the time we allow.  So fasting is a way of not allowing the world (in this case manifested as a habit or appetite) to dictate all the terms of every day.

For these forty days, we struggle to reassert the correct orientation of our lives by denying the world just a sliver of it’s grip on our souls.  

You can tell how little the world can bear not to have all, by how much the world pushes back against surrendering any.  Every spiritual act is rationalized or presented as merely a trussed up version of a practical manifestation of the same discipline.  More accurately, the world tries to strip down what is sacred to make it simply an optional activity.   However, God doesn’t mind working through the stripped down versions, He meets each of us where we are.  But for those of us of faith, who know God is, more is demanded.  Will we give God that sliver of time during these forty days?  Or will we rationalize and reason our ways away from offering anything, excusing all our failures without trying more.

We have tried feasting on the world, and it has left us bloated but unsated, with thousands of friends and alone, and forever entertained but not challenged beyond the moment.   Alternatively, we have been shown from the mountain, all the evils, all the wrongs, all the sins, and found wanting for knowing about all these things and doing nothing different.  The internet reveals that the whole world is crying out, with needs beyond any person, people, nation or group of nations willingness to eliminate.   I do not know if we could, but I do know, we could more than we do.

I always used to laugh at the absurdity in Star Trek The New Generation’s premise that somehow we’d evolved away from wanting more than we have, from seeking easy routes, from being fallen.

That is the world’s promise that has always been the most seductive lie.   If we met everyone’s physical needs, there would be no crime, no more sin.  Even Genesis tells us, this is not so.  Children reveal this to us when they fight. All their needs are met, all that is required of them is to love, and this still, is too much.  Our own nation has more than most everywhere else, and still we want more, and there are those who have and do not care if they take, and those who take because they lack, and those who take simply because they want.  Grace is a gift always given, but it is one we must seek, cling to as though nailed to our souls.

If we look at our own favorite celebrities or politicians or CEOs, they have beyond what anyone could want or need.  They remain still, people in need of something beyond what they’ve acquired, something the world cannot give even if they do not know it.   Fame, wealth, power, ease, none of these bring with them, peace to the heart.

That peace is only found in the sparseness of the desert of our souls, when we allow ourselves to see the world and ourselves as God sees, and to hear God’s calling to our hearts.  

We cannot work our way to heaven, we can only work to help carry each other’s crosses on route.   We cannot eliminate all suffering and death, but we can ease suffering, accompany each other, and pray that when we finally surrender our spirits, we will hear those beautiful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Doing any of this begins with being unreasonable, and setting aside time for the one who loves us most.

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