Lent Series # 1– A Counter Culture Calling: An Authentic Life in Christ
As we reflect on Christ’s life and our own this Lent Season, we see Jesus calling us to authentic living.
Matt 6:1-6 & 16-21
Jesus called out this idea of false image in his day.
Maybe you were like me in the lead up to the Presidential elections in 2016. I would watch news clips of Donald Trump as he campaigned to be the Republican nominee. Surely not I thought. Yet he was nominated. As he campaigned against Hillary Clinton, as the Democrat Party nominee for the presidency, I thought to myself, surely not. People will see through him. Yet he was inducted on 20 January 2017 as the 45th President of the United States. Now I am not advocating for any political party in the US—both have issues. But the thing that struck me was the power of Trump’s image and rhetoric to sway people.
We are living in an age obsessed with image. In years past, it was movie stars, sports heroes, and yes, even some politicians. But today, with the power of social media, anybody can have “influence” if you have a powerful image. You become the product and spend countless hours making sure your image is successful and attractive, so you gain more followers. The reality is image can have little to do with the actual—the real-life character.
Jesus called out this idea of false image in his day. Those seeking to puff up their religious image. In Matthew 6 he challenges religious leaders who were putting on a show.
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So, when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the street, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matt 6:1-4)
Jesus goes on to address prayer and fasting where their image rather than God’s service was the focus. As we reflect on Christ’s life and our own this Lent Season, we see Jesus calling us to authentic living. To be like our Lord from the inside out. This is what pleases God’s heart. It draws others to Jesus in us as we act with generosity and prayerfulness. Transformed daily into his glory.
So today I ask, what fuels your actions? Pleasing the Lord and having his heart for others? Or is it what you might look like to others? Your image? A time to examine yourself.
Find your reward not in others, but in Christ.