I’ve hit my first hurdle in this journey to die to self, to take up the cross and journey with Christ. And I almost have to laugh at how utterly ridiculous it is. You see, one of my favorite applications on Facebook is the (Lil) Green Patch. (Yeah, I don’t know why they use the parentheses either.) For those of you not familiar with it, you can help save the rainforest by sending pretend plants to your friends for their pretend gardens. You can also tend to your pretend garden and earn points with which to buy more plants. And I want more plants.
Yesterday I started to rationalize, “Would it REALLY be breaking my Lenten fast if I just logged on to Facebook each day, quickly opened the application (which earns me an automatic 50 points) and then closed it again?” At the end of Lent I’d be able to ‘buy’ all sorts of pretend plants with the points I’d saved up. Why, I’d even have enough points earned to get the really cool plants that cost lots of points!
I don’t know the technicalities of Lent. If I break my fast is it a sin? It’s probably one of those areas where some say yes and some say no. But as I thought further about it I realized that it isn’t so much about whether or not it is a sin, it’s about my willingness to die to self in order to grow in Christ. And what I wanted to do was exchange a bit of the beauty of real growth in Christ for some pretend flowers.
Exchanging the real for the pretend. How often do we do that? Not just in our spiritual lives, but in our families as well. We exchange real relationships for those that we can just turn off when they don’t tell us what we want to hear. We exchange real study for prepackaged feel-good messages. We fool ourselves into thinking that we are giving something our all, while all the while we maintain our right to do things OUR way, in OUR time. We give as long as it doesn’t hurt.
I don’t want to be satisfied with the pretend flowers, I want the real growth. I want something that is alive and vibrant, something that is beyond my control. And so, as hard as it is to say it, I want the cross. I want to die to self in order to live in Christ.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7-14