Who doesn’t like a bargain? I certainly don’t want to pay full price for something, especially food, if I can find a bargain on the same item. A good friend of mine often says, “If it’s free, it’s for me.” I must admit I enjoy getting something for free.
We live in a world that wants everything especially food, clothing, household goods, and technology, at bargain prices, but at what cost to the poor and the environment? For us to have free access to bargain prices for food, technology, and resources often means that those who produce and sell our goods are not paid a living wage. And our bargain goods are often produced in conditions that devastate the environment and add to our polluted air.
One of my concerns is that my obsession with bargains extends to my faith as well. Perhaps you share in the concern as well. We want to buy salvation and God’s grace at bargain prices too. My quest for bargains encourages me to believe that I don’t have to pay the full price for redemption either. Which is great because I would much rather settle for a relationship that demands little of me in terms of penitence or repentance. Like most Christians, I would rather experience God’s grace and forgiveness without sacrifice, without commitment, and without the need to change.
Deliberately walking with Christ towards the Cross never comes at bargain prices; it is very costly. In fact it demands our whole lives. But it is absolutely necessary if we want to become the disciples God intends us to be. It means recognizing that the true self is “made in the image of God” and reflects the characteristics that are true to God’s image—love and compassion, justice for the poor, freedom from oppression, and consideration of the needs of others as more important than my own.
Accept One of the Weekly Challenges:
“Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me.”
1. Read Psalm 51 and then spend time in silence meditating on its implications for your life.
2. Look into a mirror, and using a felt-tip marker or soap, write or draw onto your reflection words and symbols that represent your anxieties and fears. When you are ready, spray glass cleaner onto the mirror and wipe it clean.
3. Pray together with family or friends for God’s cleansing in your hearts. Reflect on those things in your life that focus you on yourself rather than on God. Discuss the following question: What is one thing you struggle with that distracts you from a whole-hearted commitment to Christ?
4. Write down your areas of struggle on a piece of paper. How could you use this first full week of Lent to initiate a new spiritual discipline that would bring reconciliation and healing in your place of struggle? Some possibilities you might like to consider are:
a. Free up an extra fifteen minutes each day to pray and read the Scripture.
b. Memorize one new scripture verse each day.
c. Take time each day to read a chapter from a book on spiritual disciplines, such as Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline.
d. Choose a day during this first week of Lent to fast. Use meal times for special prayers. Focus specifically on your broken places, seeking repentance and asking God for forgiveness.
e. Seek out one person that you have held a grudge against or treated unjustly and seek forgiveness.