A few days after baby J was born, I texted a photo of her to my cousin Jennifer. She texted me back telling me the conversation she had with her two-year-old, B.
Mom shows picture of Baby J to B
B points to picture and says, “Baby Jesus.”
Mom: “No, that’s baby J.”
B: “No, Mommy, that’s baby Jesus.”
When others look at us, who do they see?
A tenet of our theology is that we are created in the image of God. While we attempt from time to time to create God in our image, the truth remains that we have been created in the image of God. We have similar attributes as God – love, compassion, justice, for example – resulting in us striving to be Christ-like.
The writer of 1 John doesn’t hold back. “Whoever says, ‘I abide in him,’ ought to walk just as he walked.” For those of us who claim the name Christian, who claim Jesus as our Lord, we ought to walk as Jesus walked.
Seems pretty simple, right?
Yet, it seems to be one of the hardest things about being a Christian. We say all the right words on Sunday in worship and in Bible studies, but when Monday rolls around, we use every non-Jesus like word in the book. We say mean things about our family members. We talk behind the backs of our co-workers. We are passive aggressive towards our supervisors.
Worse yet, we tolerate this behavior in others. We turn a blind eye to the injustices around us. We remain silent out of fear of losing our job or status in the community. We hide behind what is comfortable instead of taking the risk and stepping up.
When others look at you, who do they see?
Lent is that time in the life of the church and of the Christian when we self-examine ourselves. Where have we fallen short of the glory of God? When have we not loved God with our whole hearts? When have we not done God’s will? When have we rebelled against God’s love? When have we not loved our neighbors? When have we not heard the cries of the needy?
And we ask for forgiveness.
Perhaps this is why we start such a season with Ash Wednesday. In wearing the mark of the cross, we acknowledge that we are sinners. We have failed to follow God’s commands and live as God calls us to. But Ash Wednesday does not end there, it propels us onto a journey through Lent towards the empty tomb and new life.
When you come out of this wilderness of journey and self-examination, what will you do differently? Will you stand up for injustice? Will you use your voice for the voiceless? Will you have new life?