Five Ways to Experience Restoration, Healing and Hope in a Broken World
Week 4 in a Lenten Series for Stewards and Steward Leaders
This is our fourth week looking at how we, as stewards, live and thrive in the unprecedented times in which we live. My premise is that we are experiencing a level of cultural disintegration and moral chaos the likes of which we have never seen, and that the collateral damage of our times is seen in at least three ways; brokenness, woundedness and despair.
In response, we are using this season of Lent to reflect on five habits we fall into and our need to repent of each. From this repentance we pray we can find restoration from our brokenness, healing from our woundedness, and hope in place of despair.
In the past three weeks we considered what it means to repent of 1) our tendency to be keepers of our own kingdoms instead of God’s kingdom, 2) of our desire to be self-reliant instead of God-reliant, and 3) of our self-shaped image instead of finding our identity in Christ alone.
In this fourth week, we will take an honest look at the temptation to treat people as means to our own ends. Before you brush this off saying, “oh, that’s not me”, allow yourself to read for just a few more sentences. When was the last time you said angry words when a driver cut you off in traffic, or shook your head in disgust when the person ahead of you in line took forever to complete their transaction? When have you been frustrated by an interruption to your schedule by a ‘needy’ person or chosen to ignore an email or phone call from someone you felt just wasn’t worth the effort of a response? Let me ask it this way, as you walk through your day, who’s agenda drives your actions – yours or God’s?
We are a culture that worships production and applauds the aura of busyness we reinforce whenever we can. Successful people are busy people, and busy people have agendas to keep, goals to achieve, to-do lists to conquer. Even when we believe we are ‘doing it all for Jesus’, our agenda can easily dominate our time, our actions and our attitudes.
When we live life driven to achieve, we cannot help but see others as either means to that goal or an obstacle in the way. Test your heart and see if you can’t unearth those attitudes toward others. We can view our work colleagues in this way, even our friends. This can cut very close to home. We can view our spouse and our children in this same utilitarian way. It may be subtle, but this Lent, search your heart and see where these attitudes lurk.
Brokenness results from seeing others as means to our ends, as role players in the achievement of our agendas. Such relationships stand in stark contrasts to Jesus’ command that we serve our neighbor, love them as we love ourselves and even lay down our life for them. In essence, Jesus is commanding us to set aside our agenda, take up our towel and serve the agenda of those whose paths intersect with ours every day.
Does that sound exhausting? Unproductive? Even dangerous? Perhaps that’s what Jesus was warning us about when He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
Taking up our cross at Lent means first laying down our agendas and self-serving driven-ness, and entering each day seeking God’s agenda for our lives. We will still go to work, engage on all sorts of relationships, be productive and achieve goals. However, what will be changed is our attitudes toward everyone we encounter. We will begin to see people like Jesus sees them, and that must become our Lenten prayer.
Pray each day that God would give you such vision. What would your days of Lent look like if you began each encounter with another person with the quick prayer, “Lord, use me right now to bring blessing into this person’s life, and to help them on their journey to you.” The second step is to identify the people in your life who have been wounded by your agenda-pursuing ways. Repent, ask for forgiveness, pursue reconciliation and humble yourself before those you have wounded. It is the way of the cross, the way to Christ and a balm to your soul.
The final step is to rise in hope. Think about the impact your life can have if you were to view everyone around you as fellow travelers who need you just as much as you need them. What if your journey through Lent, and life, was made rich only to the extent that you brought hope and joy into the lives of those around you? As you help them on their journey, you cannot help but be brought closer to Christ yourself. May that calling mark your remaining days of Lent.