Lenten Reflections: Welcoming Those Whom Jesus Loves

If I read the Gospels and really put myself in the story, I would have to admit that I may well have wanted to “protect” Jesus from some of those that sought His help and His blessing.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of deciding who might be worthy of God’s time and attention.

The disciples decided Jesus was too busy and too important for children to be brought near. Our gentle Shepherd not only welcomed the little ones but told his followers that they must all become as children.

How often do I undervalue someone else’s Christ encounter because it isn’t expressed in eloquent or even coherent words?

How often do I minimize the power of grace and mercy to change a heart or a life because the changes I expect or want to see aren’t the ones I can observe and fit neatly into categories?

Religious profiling is a thing, y’all.

We tend to interpret others’ experiences in light of our own and the traditions with which we are familiar and comfortable. When someone comes to us with a tale of an authentic spiritual encounter that falls outside those boundaries, it’s easy to dismiss it.

Imagine Moses walking back home after meeting God in the burning bush and trying to explain THAT to those he lived with!

It’s not my place to authenticate or validate how the Lord chooses to work in another person’s life and heart.

As long as what they share is consistent with Scripture I should welcome them as Jesus does.

Whom do we spiritually underestimate? The elderly? The young? The poor? The wealthy? The beautiful? The disabled? What group or class of people would we have turned away from Jesus?….Today ask God to shine His light upon any form of religious profiling in which you are dismissing those Jesus would welcome.

Alicia Britt Chole

This video and song are particularly dear to my heart. William Wilberforce fought for the abolition of slavery in Britain for most of his adult life.

He was considered lots of things-crazy among them-but stayed the course in spite of illness, discouragement and seeming failure because he was convinced God had called him to the task.

Many well-meaning Christians questioned whether or not he had really heard from the Lord.

Hindsight makes it clear they were wrong.

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Facing My Inner Pharisee


In centuries past it was common for Christ followers to fast.

They fasted for many reasons:  to consecrate themselves for a task; to seek answers to prayer; observance of seasons on the church calendar; or for strength to overcome besetting sin.

Today, fasting has fallen out of favor in most western churches-deemed unnecessary or an attempt to gain favor with God by “works”.

That’s unfortunate.  

Because fasting has never been about making points with God, it’s been about removing self-reliance from our spiritual vocabulary.

It’s not about demonstrating personal fortitude or displaying self-righteousness, it’s about recognizing my weakness and desperate dependence on Christ.  

Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are – dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.

~Hudson Taylor

Like the Pharisees, though, I am apt to make much of my “sacrifice” and little of Christ’s sufficiency.  I want to bargain with God and rise in the ranks of His favor because I’m so “good”.

It doesn’t work like that.  

I was almost to the end of a 40 day fast when Dominic was killed.

I am physically unable to fast 40 days consecutively so, for several years, I had done an every-other-day fast so that it equaled 40 days.

At some point in the first week after Dom ran ahead to heaven I remember crying out to God, “What exactly do You want from me??? I’ve done all that I know to do in an attempt to live up to Your expectations, and yet it is never enough!”

And (not then, certainly!) but at some point in the nearly 3 years since, He answered, “Your righteous acts are as filthy rags. The only sufficient sacrifice is My own Son’s blood.”

THAT was humbling.

Because even though I would have given the same answer to anyone else who thought they could “work” their way into God’s good graces, obviously the truth of it had not seeped into the fabric of my being.

I WAS trying to make points with God.  And I was angry He hadn’t taken that into consideration and spared me the pain of burying my son.

We often mock the Pharisees for thinking that “getting it right” means “being righteous”, but I understand the temptation to substitute acts of righteousness for relying on relationship through Jesus Christ.

The one means I am in control, the other means I have to follow and give up control.

If there is one thing I’ve learned through child loss that I cannot forget for even a millisecond is: I am NOT in control.

I am utterly dependent on Him for life, for breath, for saving AND sustaining grace.  

For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing.

Ephesians 2:8-9 VOICE

Fasting from food is relatively easy.  Fasting from my tendency toward self-righteousness is much harder.  

This year, as I observe Lent,

as I fast,

as I add in holy habits,

I am asking God to help me remember that I am not trying to win His favor,

I am making room to hear His heart.



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