Lent and love…not concepts that we often think of together, but they’ve been coming together more closely for me lately. Maybe it is simply that I am a little more aware during this Lenten season and the connection seems true and right.
The other day I was holding Madeleine and she was giggling and laughing, and I would laugh….and she would laugh in response. Her eyes lit up and she laughed with them as well as her little chortling laugh-out-loud delight. It is impossible to convey the emotions of parents in these moments. There was delight that welled up within me just in seeing her delight.
There is love that is awakened in us as parents that is unlike anything else. And it is returned in our infants especially. They delight in us.
Anna, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote about her experience as a new mom and this awareness. I really liked this:
They say that becoming a parent changes everything, but what I think those people missed when they said that was the fact that being a parent changes you profoundly. It doesn’t just shake up your life (it does) or cause you realize that sleep is over-rated (it’s not, but you really can function on far less than you think!), but if you listen to your baby, they will explain love to you in ways that you haven’t known since you were a baby.
She’s right. It disarms you. Even if you are not a parent…if you are around little ones you can see that they love unabashedly and without any fear. It is wonderful.
What does this have to do with Lent? Well, it has to do with what we are to be thinking on.
Jesus went to the desert to face temptations and to be tested as He entered His ministry. He already knew He was taking the first steps to the cross. He knew where the road was going to lead and He knew what was required of Him to bring about our salvation.
But He loved us.
Unabashedly and without fear and without insecurity and without all the baggage we bring.
I know that our attempts at Lenten fasting may seem silly. Some seem sober and respectable. Still…it is just us, attempting to do something to awaken our spiritual eyes to look differently at the way we live and who we are. That is all on our side…we’re trying to do something. And that smacks against what this journey of Jesus is all about….His grace for us.
So, today I’m dwelling on this meeting of Lent and Love. I have already said that I do not think giving up anything will impress God and shouldn’t be done with that intent. But, I do think that He delights in our desire to please Him and to know Him.
Facebook. Thin Mint cookies. TV. Soda. Luxuries. Meat.
Giggle. Laugh. Bat your eyes. Respond to your Father with delight and desire to engage and know. And I believe He delights in us.
“1 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Because Lent is about preparing ourselves to experience Good Friday and Easter…about thinking on Jesus’ journey in the wilderness…it is sober. I don’t want to make it less than what it should be. Still, I think at it’s core it is about love. Huffington Post is doing a series on Lent, and this quotation from one of the first articles was part of this thinking for me:
“Lent is not 40 days of misery to be forgotten with the first sip of that illicit latte. It’s our preparation for the Resurrection; our chance to grow spiritually before we once again proclaim that the love of Christ overcame even death.”
Don’t be distracted by the details and miss the whole picture. Delight in God in this season. Even in sobriety and with sacrifice…delight that it is the love of Christ that overcame death. For God so loved the world….
My first question is, how can a perfect being incapable of moral wrong be “tempted.” It’s akin to a man going out to “risk his life” in a firefight even though he is surrounded by 3 inches of titanium on every side.
I realize that you post this in the good nature of loving and loving kindness. My response is not meant to diminish or detract from that in some sort of cold vein.
My response is in the same spirit: how can such a supposed “trial of temptation” be out of love if said entity is not really putting out any risk, indeed, its very nature knows know risk at all? Love always entails risk, sacrifice always entails a loss for gain.
But that which cannot lose anything by it’s nature, nor risk anything by its nature, can also not love by its nature. It has, it would seem, perfected itself out of loving, or at least any meaningful kind of love.
With the risk, trials, and sacrifice required for anything to be called love also is, part and parcel, limited resources. A lioness has limited resources to care for her cubs, and devotes her very life to that, at risk. We love our family and friends in a way we cannot “love” the world with limited resources. That’s what makes love special, and being loved feel special.
Christianity attempts to conflate this very special love of limited resources with the world wide sentiment of “love” we say we have for the world (which is really just much more limited compassion and empathy) as if they are the same thing. They are not, nor could they ever be.
An entity that has no limit of resources to “love” risks nothing, and as such, that love, no matter how “vast or eternal,” cannot be special. A man with infinite wealth who gives billions of dollars to everyone gives nothing, because he loses nothing. A god that dies on a cross for a day only to take his life up again (thus showing he never lost it) sacrifices nothing. It is only a show, and not an impressive one at that. I’ll take the love of a soldier who truly sacrifices for my freedoms who knows me not any day of the week, and that love from such limitations and mortality far surpasses the love any deity could ever hope to express.
The Entity that has no limit of resources actually risks losing you! He sacrificed His everything and died but He still gives you the choice to walk away and give your love to something/someone else.
Sarah, I can’t even explain what a blessing your posts have been – thank you so much!!!!!
Jeffrey…I’m really glad that you posted the second comment because after I read just the first I was going to simply say we’ll have to agree to disagree….now I do want to respond more thoroughly. Your questions are not to be brushed off.
That said, I need to take care of Miss Madeleine’s needs and will get back on as soon as I can…
Okay….I have just a second, so this will be a limited response.
We know we are both working from very different views, so we’re going to come out at different places. We’re entering this discussion knowing we aren’t going to agree…that said, we know we’ll end eventually having to simply agree to disagree.
Your point is interesting though…and has some merit. I would, of course come at it a bit differently.
God in the Incarnation already limited Himself. God and Man. Jesus said that He did not know the hour when He would return…that only the Father knew….so there were limitations. (that’s the first obvious one that comes to mind).
I’m sure there is the question of how…and I have absolutely no idea. This is where the discussion will get tricky, because my premise is God is who He claims to be in the Bible. I accept the Incarnation on faith, but I cannot explain it in a way that would answer all questions.
So…I understand that you are arguing that God did this simply for a moment, knowing that He would return to deity and therefore it doesn’t really count.
I disagree. I think it is the whole point. He was willing to take on limitations in order to show His love toward us.
I also get what you are saying that there are sacrificial deaths that are more stirring than Jesus’. There are those who die not knowing that they would be raised from the dead…and Jesus did know this.
Still, there is one aspect of the death of Christ that we cannot place a value on in our experience. His experience of the Father turning away from Him. Again. I cannot explain how this happens or how it works with the Trinity.
Maybe I am simply foolish in this…and it’s okay if you say that. There are other who would be able to articulate this with more clarity.
This was a limitation and a suffering and an agony that we simply cannot fully comprehend, and I think that is what separates the death of Jesus on the cross from any other sacrificial death.
We believe that He took the weight (for lack of a better word) of our sin on Himself and bore the judgment. There is no way to know what that sacrifice “felt” like. He limited himself in that moment and did not escape. His resources were limited because the curse of sin had to be dealt with.
Now. All of that may seem fairy tale or horse puckey to you because the premise of sin and of the need for salvation is false to you. I’m just trying to express my understanding in response to your question.
Does that help at all?
Don’t you think that Jesus’ limitations as a man were much more lengthy and difficult than His actual death? I mean consider the infinite God of the universe becoming an embryo. . . a fetus. . . a baby. His death was brutal and painful but short compared to living for a year without being able to walk, or 15 yrs obeying His eartly parents. When you are perfect God how do you take instruction from an earthly parent who sins and makes mistakes?
But I agree with you Sarah, the fact of God turning away from Jesus during His death must have been the most devastating, traumatic momemts for Him.
Good point, Jenn….I don’t think we can ever completely understand what it cost for God to become man. The Incarnation is so beyond our ability to completely understand…
Rob just pointed out too that He will have the marks and memory of His torture and death for Eternity. Not just forgetting about it and moving on. Or putting it off like it was nothing. Scars we will be able to see! Pain that He will always remember.
Yes….Jesus is marked by his sacrifice. You’re right….some day we will understand that completely.
Sarah… Sometimes you are like heavens echo in my heart. Thank you for putting these things into words. What a blessing you are to all who read you. XO
Awww…you are too kind, my friend!