Joe Hoover’s list of “if you ever-s” Is deeply convicting. The list lowers the bar of commitment, and it nullifies the work of Christ in every way possible. Space won’t allow the whole list, but here are a few: If you ever….
• Quietly steal inconsequential things.
• Don’t wash your hands, not much. Especially after using the bathroom.
• Decided you would not have a relationship with the person that delivers your mail every day.
• Ignore the waitstaff at your local restaurant or leave a miserably small tip.
• Begin every conversation in which you talk about other people by saying that you don’t usually talk about people.
Hoover’s list is a blanket that covers us all. During those times when we’ve felt self-righteous, justified, snarky, or vengeful, Lent is a good remember of how far away from Jesus we often choose to walk. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time were good examples of what happens when we elect to be mediocre in our discipleship. When we refuse to go the extra mile. To give to him who begs. To turn the other cheek to him who smites.
In the wilderness with Jesus, we must think more seriously about how we live. We cannot be sated with choices out there, and the choices we do have are seen in stark, bright light. There are no noises or confusing images or titillating options.
For Jesus, it was where he met the tempter, and what was offered was unambiguous. Turn these stones to bread. Throw yourself off the highest point of the Temple. Fall-down and worship me.
In the hustle and bustle of life outside of the wilderness these choices come camouflaged. Stones into bread becomes make a good living for your family. Jump off the temple becomes climb the ladder of success. Worship me, and I’ll give you all these kingdoms becomes seeking preeminence in the world.
Lent is the reminder that we’re on a journey to Jerusalem with Jesus. We’re clarifying our lives in the wilderness. Nothing can be cavalier then. So I wash my hands to protect my friends. I speak to the mail carrier because I care about her or him. I’m kind to the waitstaff at the restaurant because I want them to feel respected and affirmed. And I guard my tongue because how I use it reflects on Jesus.
Lord Jesus, we give thanks for the reminder we receive from you in the wilderness. We admit that we trivialize life events, not thinking about how significant that are in the world of people. Clarify whose we are and where we are going. And may we be people who raise the bar rather than lowering it simply because we are following you. In your name we pray this. Amen.