Lent is a time that offers us an opportunity to come to terms with the human condition we may spend the rest of the year running from and it brings our need for a Savior to the forefront. Like Advent, Lent is a time to open the doors of our hearts a little wider and understand Christ Jesus a little deeper, so that when Good Friday and eventually Easter comes, it is not just another day at church but an opportunity to receive the overflowing of graces God has to offer.
Join us the next 40 days as we come together as a community to:
- Focus our hearts around daily scripture
- Contemplate on daily questions about Christ
- Embrace gospel centered principles
- Demonstrate trust in Christ through daily practices
Monday, march 12th-16th
Scripture To Memorize: james 1:5-8
Devotional To Read:
How Jesus Helped People Get Down to Desire
Lent is about making space to experience the fulness of Christ's love for us. Part of making space has to do with being really honest, and this week we focus on being amazingly honest with our desires.
Jesus lived with an awareness of the basic fault of humanity ever before him: we live with disordered desire. Desire itself is neither good nor bad, it’s simply part of being human.
And instead cultivating apathy toward desire (like Stoics), eliminating desire (like Buddhists), or indulging desire (like hedonism), Jesus invites us into ordering and shaping our desire in love. Love is the center around which our desires find their (super)natural orbit.
Of course, the word of God reminds us that we are after an integration of our Head, Habits, and Heart: We want to become single-minded (James 1:5-8), to not lose heart (2 Cor 4:16-18), by them being quickened and awakened (Luke 24:25; Ephesians 4:17-24 ; 1 Peter 5:8-9) through mind, body, heart shalom.
When we integrate and align what we think, what we do, and what we desire in the love of God as revealed in Jesus, we are complete and fully unified. This is the biblical concept of shalom.
Jesus understood shalom: it’s why the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus is saying “Love must permeate your desires, your thoughts, and your actions.” The greatest commandment is the greatest because when Love is the center of our heart, soul, mind, and strength we are one with God and others!
So our spiritual growth has to address our attachment to – i.e. our relationship with – our desires. Unless we get "our wants" on the table in discipleship we will never be able to integrate our spirituality to look and live like Jesus.
This exercise is about meditating on passages of scripture where we see Jesus getting to the desires of those he came to save. He does this in many ways: stories, questions, challenges, defying expectations, provoking antagonisms. As you read and reflect, take some time to process using the questions provided.
You can read through all these passages in one day, or spread them out over the whole week, but spend enough time on each to really dig into the reflection questions.
Daily Exercises to Practice
Passage 1: John 13:21-38
“What you are about to do, do quickly… Will you give up your life for me?”
Here are two disciples and their desire on display: Judas and Peter. Jesus takes the same posture toward BOTH: He helps them name/own what is in their hearts even when what is there is not godly.
- What do you notice about how Jesus relates to Judas’ desire here? Does he ignore it? Try to influence it? How would you describe his posture towards it?
- What do you notice about Peter’s desire here? How is aspirational desire different than his actual desire?
- Notice: in between Jesus empowering Judas and Peter to name/own their desire, Jesus gives them a new commandment (vv. 34-35). What do you think is the connection between this commandment (“Love as I have loved you”) and desire?
Passage 2: Mark 10:35-52
“What do you want me to do for you?”
Jesus asks the same question to a pair of his disciples (v.36) and to a blind beggar (v.51). The disciples ask for control and power; the beggar trusts Jesus for healing and notice how Jesus deals with their desires differently:
- How does Jesus respond to James and John? What does he do with their question and the desire driving it?
- The other disciples become angry at James and John (hint: anger is an indication that our wants are coming to the surface) and Jesus responds to all of them with a teaching (notice how frequently Jesus’ teaching is in response to revealed hearts!) – How does Jesus’ teaching speak to their desire? What does he say about their desire?
- Why does Jesus ask Bartimaeus what he wants? It’s obvious that he’s blind and that infirmity has led him to be a beggar for sustenance. It seems like the ultimate, “Duh!” question – unless it’s important for Bartimaeus to name/own what he wants and submit it to (i.e. trust) Jesus.
- In light of this: what is the faith Bartimaeus demonstrates? How does that relate to his desire? And what does this have to do with the power Jesus came to operate in? (see v.44)
- How would you describe the difference between James/John and the rest of the disciple’s relationship to their desires and Bartimaeus? What does Mark want us to see by contrasting these two stories?
Passage(s) 3: John 1:35-39 & John 21:15-19
“What are you looking for?” … “Do you love me?”
Jesus’ first words in the gospel of John are a question of the heart: what are you seeking? And Jesus’ last words in the gospel of John are a question of the heart: do you love me? If we are going to be a disciple of Jesus our “wanter” has got to be “on the table.” That’s where Jesus meets us.
- Andrew and an unnamed disciple are following Jesus in John 1 and Jesus asks them “What are you looking for?” They answer they want to see where Jesus is staying and Jesus answers, “Come and see” – How would you describe Jesus’ response to their desire?
- Peter has gone back to fishing after his true desire was revealed the night of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus comes back toward him – not with scolding, or shaming, or shoulding – but with another question of desire; “Do you love me?” This time, when Peter owns/names his desire, how does Jesus respond? What does he give him?
- Notice the end of the section – Jesus calibrates grace and truth by laying out the cost of his desire “stretch out your hands…and lead you where you don’t want to go…” and ends it with a “Follow me”. Why does Jesus end this meeting like this?
Passage 4: Luke 9:57-62
“No one who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for God’s kingdom.”
Jesus deals with would-be disciples. There is no doctrine test, there is no morality bar…but with each of the three potential disciples, Jesus deals with getting their “wanter” on the table.
- What do you notice about each engagement? How does Jesus engage people who appear interested in him?
- A few of the people in this text have valid concerns/reasons for delaying their discipleship: What strikes you about how Jesus responds?
Passage 5: Luke 15:2, 11-32
“The Pharisees and legal experts were grumbling, saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”… “You are always with me and all that I have is yours. But we had to celebrate because this brother of yours was dead and is alive…”
Jesus reveals their desire – their heart – through a story; much like Nathan and David in 2 Samuel 12.
- Notice: Jesus tells a story to reveal hearts. He teaches with stories for a purpose. Reflect a bit on the work story does to arouse and excavate a heart. Why do you think it’s so effective? How do stories we consume (movies, books, television) do the same or different work today?
- Jesus story intended to bring conviction and clarity about the state of the religious leader’s hearts. But at the end of the story their response is left up in the air. Why do you think that is?
Passage 6: Luke 4:14-30
“Everyone was raving about Jesus” … “When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was filled with anger.”
Jesus is all the rage after his first sermon in his hometown, but he selectively ends his passage in Isaiah short of the “and the day of vengeance of our God” from Isaiah 61.
They don’t get it immediately – they’re all raving about him – but then Jesus tells two stories (Elijah healing the widow at Zarapheth in Sidon and Elisha cleansing Naaman) that highlight God’s mercy on Gentiles rather than Israelites. This interpretation of the Isaiah text leads his hometown to want to kill him.
- Why does Jesus provoke his hometown like this? What is revealed through his teaching?
- What is at stake for them if they own/name desire? What is the cost of owning what they really want?
- Notice how Jesus handles acclaim and fame (see also John 2.23-25; John 6.15, 22ff) – what is different about his desire – and how he navigates others desires – than how we typically deal with things?
(Today's excercise adapted from gravity leadership)
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