Here we are, day three in the Lenten season and day three of my quest to be changed by the power of His spirit. I decided to take a “balls to the wall” approach to my fasting this season and I cut it down to nothing but the bare essentials. Some think it extreme, but I consider it getting back to the basics of life. The disciples didn’t have the distractions we have now and I think that’s what made it relatively easy for them to take up their crosses and follow him. Here we are thousands of years later with a ton of distractions that have done more harm than good.
The Blackberries, iPhones, Facebook, Myspace, television, drinking, partying, fornicating, etc, have all become our strongholds. They have a tight grip on our lives so much to the point that we’ve convinced ourselves that we are in need of them. If we were to be honest, we pay more attention to them than we do to God. You don’t think so? How many times a day do check your phone compared to how many times you talk to, think about, worship, or praise God? When you are on Facebook building your friend list, how many of those people–the ones you know and the ones you don’t–are you praying for earnestly? When you’re at a party, fully convincing yourself that you’re not doing anything wrong, just a little two step and one drink, how do you figure you are representing the kingdom? And this makes me pause for a second to bring up the word of a young minister I admire. In his portion of a Good Friday “Seven Last Words” sermon entitled “There to Judge” he said, “How are you going to say that you are called apart and then be at every single party that the heathens are at? One or two is ok, but if it’s your name that they’re dropping at the door to get in free after 12AM there’s a problem with that…The world is making its judgment on what to do with this man named Jesus based on your testimony and your activity.”
So much of what we do, the outward presentation of ourselves and our inner life, predicates our life in Christ. And I write this to bring to the attention the body of Christ that the strongholds we have on all the world has produced heretofore and it’s new inventions for the future must be destroyed. Destroyed in regards to the precedence we give them over God. Psalm 94:22 was my original inspiration for this post. “But the Lord has become my stronghold…” (NRSV) I read this before I went to bed last night and kept thinking, “Wow, God as a stronghold, that is the best stronghold to have. I want that stronghold.”
We often talk about strongholds in terms of their negative influence on our lives and gloss over the fact that in many translations, God’s people, like David for instance, referred to God as his stronghold. But imagine if we spent more of our time being concerned about being obessed with God. Like Jazmine Sullivan singing about a love interest–and she could be singing about God–in “Need U Bad.” How awesome would it be to put God in that place? The place where God is such a stronghold that a moment without him reminds you that you need him bad like your heartbeat, bad like the food you eat, need him bad you can’t take this pain, because you’re about go insane. We do need him bad like that but somehow we don’t even take it that seriously figuring, “It doesn’t take all of that.” If I’m only speaking for myself and a handful of people I confess it does take all of that.
This Lenten season is about breaking strongholds, not about abstaining from something only to bring it back on April 12th. It’s about getting rid of everything that is creating a barrier to a true relationship with God. And in its place, creating space for the one true God, the author and finisher of our fate, the one who, if it wasn’t for his existence, nothing we have on this earth right now would exist…Including us.