Jesus didn’t come just to bring us comfort in our lives...he also came to make us squirm.
“How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and plate, but inside they are full of violence and pleasure seeking. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup so that the outside of the cup will be clean too." Matt. 23:25-26 CEB
In this passage Jesus was tough on the Pharisees. Yet they needed to be challenged. A mirror needed to be reflected straight at them to show them they needed to clean up their act. Reading these words, you may wonder if Jesus could have done this in a kinder and gentler way.
Yet Jesus didn’t come just to bring us comfort in our lives. He did. But he also came to make us squirm. To make us uncomfortable as he thrusts the mirror in our face and shows us where we need to clean up our act. The season of Lent should be renamed the season of squirming. Because if we take it seriously, we will genuinely ask Jesus to take his spotlight and search our hearts, minds, souls, and spirit to find all the dinginess, wickedness, hypocrisy, and blight that needs to be cleaned out.
The season of Lent is a reminder that if you are looking for a nice, comfortable religion that doesn't call for too many demands on your life, then you probably shouldn't try to be one of Jesus' disciples. He is demanding. He has the crazy notion that his followers should serve others rather than themselves. He expects them to show integrity even when no one is looking. And he expects them to love. Even your enemies. Don't follow him unless you're ready to experience some discomfort.
And discomfort brings change. For Jesus is challenging not so that we can feel bad about ourselves. Or to crush our self-esteem because we can never measure up to Jesus’ demands. Nor should we just shrug off his teachings, to walk away from them and think “Well nobody’s perfect.” The intent of these teachings is to spur us on for transformation. To be ready for that Easter Sunday when Jesus was raised from the dead to life, so that we too can say in our own way, that we have been raised from the dead to new life.