|Jesus: "Be like this crook."|
And, yet, when it comes to our faith, we tend to bumble along from one disaster to another like Rowan Atkinson's good-natured comic character, Mr. Bean.
That's because we don't Lent smart.
Instead of being practical and full of plans to give ourselves a fighting chance, we see growth as a product of our own effort. Will power. Instead of identifying one vice to root out or one virtue to cultivate, and drawing up a practical plan, we stumble along with a vague intention of being better people.
Somehow, the very practical religion of Christianity has gotten separated from common sense and floats in a separate "spiritual" sphere we don't engage with our brains.
Remember the Tower of Lent? (Luke 14:25-30) Jesus was always talking about hard-nosed practicality. His parables use everyday situations to illustrate his teachings. No one was more practical than Jesus. In fact, his very first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding after his mom noticed they were running out.
He even found something to admire in a clever embezzler.
Read Luke 16:1-9. A rich man had a crooked steward - business agent - who got caught lining his own pockets with the boss's money. He was ordered to wrap things up and hit the road. The steward was horrified at the thought of having to make an honest living, so he devised a cunning plan.
He went to everyone who owed his boss money and settled their accounts as favorably as 50 cents on the dollar. Perhaps many of these debtors were delinquent, because, when the steward brought back a large sum of money, the boss was not angry, but admired his cleverness.
When we don't have specific goals, when we don't make practical plans, when we don't pray for God's help, in short, when we rely on our own white knuckled efforts to "be a better person," we fail. Instead, we should focus on a few specific problems and devise a cunning plan that specifically addresses them.
If you are following these 40 days of lentblogging, you may recall the Bear has for a goal Regular Daily Habits. It is the foundation of his Tower of Lent. On one, he followed his plan - all one step of it. He woke up at the right time, but then he got on his computer instead of getting out of bed.
A reader gave some very practical advice: keep your computer somewhere else.
Now, that's what the Bear is talking about!