“No meat today.”
A recent early morning adventure had me sitting in a neat little bakery (not paleo or whole 30 approved other than the coffee) after meeting with a friend. I was writing some thoughts in my journal when I heard an older gentleman say this to the young woman who worked there.
It was a seemingly out of the blue statement.
Direct. Instructing. Firm.
It distracted me enough that I observed the interaction that followed.
She didn’t seem to respond well. Walls went up.
It was a Friday during the season of Lent. From the context clues, I gathered this man practices the Catholic act of fasting from meat on Fridays during Lent. Watching their exchange brought so much to mind, especially as I had just been reading in John 8 where Jesus says to his followers, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (verse 32).
The way this man was expressing himself demonstrated nothing of freedom that is to be found in Christ.
Freedom from the penalty of sin.
Freedom from striving to earn God’s favor (which is an impossible feat).
Freedom to rest in Him.
The man stated that we should sacrifice because of what Christ did on the cross.
Immediately my mind jumped to the following verses:
And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:2
Then he said: “Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, and yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your fingers.” – Luke 11:46
And [Jesus] said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” – Mark 7:6-8
These truths pricked my heart. The Lord was nudging me to ask myself:
In what ways am I “sacrificing” FOR God but not obeying Him?
Are there areas where I hold to traditions of men rather than clinging to God’s truth and commandments?
Am I experiencing the freedom that Jesus mentioned in the gospels?
Do I attempt to earn God’s favor?
Do I make it hard for others to follow God by loading them with burdens?
Please hear me. My focus in sharing this gentleman’s comment is not to make him the bad guy. It is not to criticize people who choose to participate in Lent (in whatever way you choose).
It is to share how God used this moment in a little bakery to speak to my heart.
It is to encourage you to check your heart as I am checking mine.
A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook the following:
There is nothing that you can do to earn God’s favor. There is nothing you need to do to earn God’s favor. This is why the Gospel is Good News – Pastor Jamie
Reading his post made me think:
this is freedom!