Lent Day 1: Avoid Assimilation
In the Star Trek: The next generation Series, The Borg are an alien group that appear throughout the Star Trek saga. "The Borg" are cybernetic organisms linked in what is called "the Collective". The Borg take the technology and knowledge of other alien species and make it part of the Collective through the process of "assimilation"; by transforming individuals into "drones" by injecting machinery into their bodies to make them part of the collective as clones. The Borg's ultimate goal is "achieving perfection". In our churches today we have to be careful that we are not “assimilated” into the culture and loss our identity in Christ. It is for that reason that we should consider a type of lenten season as we prepare for Easter.
During this season of life we are all experiencing new and different challenges and in preparation for the Easter Celebration, I would like us to take a journey over the next 40 days in preparation for that season. While this practice is associated with the Catholic church and Catholic tradition, along with some protestants Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial. It begins today and ends on Eater Sunday. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays). During Lent, participants eat sparingly or give up a particular food or habit. It’s not uncommon for people to give up smoking during Lent, or to swear off watching television or eating candy or telling lies. It’s six weeks of self-discipline.
While we are not Catholic, setting some time aside, dedicated to the Lord that will hopefully bring us closer to the Lord and one another is a good spiritual discipline to practice. We are clear that all we do and receive is an act of God’s grace. But as in the Old Testament and New Testament we are called to self-denial in order to follow Christ with our whole heart. Let’s take this time, over the next 40 days, to set aside to read God’s word together, and allow him to lead us in a specific area that he wants us to surrender to him, that we might draw closer to him.
With that in mind, we will walk through a book by Walter Brueggemann called, “A Way Other Than Our Own,” that will allow us to move away from ourselves to focus on Christ as we prepare our hearts for Easter. Let’s take this journey together and allow the Holy Spirit to renew our hearts in Christ and with one another.
Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
As we begin this season these verses remind us of the importance of worship or repentance. We serve a God that is ready to forgive, as we turn towards him. Walter sees that in any serious relationship there is a demand, but also grace.
Four key words from this text stand out and call for action. Seek, call, forsake and turn.
Just as the Jewish people of this time under Babylonian rule were subject to possible assimilation of that culture. So too, we as the Christian church are are in a crisis of possible assimilation. From Brueggemann’s point of view he states, “I believe the crisis in the U.S. church has almost nothing to do with liberal or conservatives, it has everything to do with giving up on the faith and discipline of our Christian baptism and settling for a common, generic U.S. identity that is part patriotism, part consumerism and part violence and part affluence.”
As children of a higher calling we need to walk worthy of our calling and our new identity in Christ. If any man is in Christ he is a new creation. As new creations in Christ, we need to get our identity based on our faith, friendship in Christ, and our new relationship, and not the culture that seeks to conform us or deport us. Let’s pray along with Brueggemann, “God of grace and demand, you challenge us to reclaim our baptismal identity as those whose lives are built on your call and your promises-not on the easy, seductive forces around us. Stir our hearts that we may engage your transforming word anew and rediscover its power to save. Amen.”