Lenten Focus #5 — Why Are You Going?

This is part five of a six-part series of the Lenten Focus, done every Wednesday during Lent. Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.

I once read a study that said that most people who go into Psychology subconsciously want to figure out what is going on with them. They go into the field because they feel like something is wrong with them, and by working with and through other people, they can figure out what is wrong and fix it. This study also said that this practice is detrimental to the clients, as they are secondary to the needs of the self.

This whole Lenten period, I’ve been focusing these blogs on who we are, what our message is, and where we’re going, but I’ve never really addressed why. The short answer is I don’t really know why. The old saying goes, “God works in mysterious ways,” but the human mind wants to reason with the mystery. It is against human nature to just accept a statement as is; there has to be a reason, and there has to be a motive, and there can be no other answer.

Part of the reason this question comes up today is because it is the 20th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who, on this day, was assassinated during the Eucharist, in a small hospital chapel in El Salvador.

For those who are unaware of this significance (of which I was one until earlier today), Archbishop Romero was one of those conservative priests who refused to acknowledge the economic and social justice message of the Catholic Church at the time. His appointment of Archbishop was met with great protest, as no one wanted someone like him leading the people, someone who was less focused on the needs of the poor.

Until March 12.

On that day, Archbishop Romero saw his best friend and colleague, Father Rutilio Grande, shot and killed in the streets of El Salvador. Looking at the corpse of his best friend, Romero said to himself, “If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path.”

It was on that day that Archbishop Romero completely turned himself around, fighting for the rights of the poor, assisting them, protecting them, and preaching to them. This eventually led to his assassination, the day after he gave a sermon telling all Christian soldiers to lay down their arms and to stop violating basic human rights.

Archbishop Romero’s story brings up a lot of questions: why did he suddenly turn himself around? Why would anyone want someone who helps the poor dead? Why, why, why?

What do psychologists and Oscar Romero have to do with today’s message? Today’s message is a somber one, and one that is unfortunately untrue with many people today.

I have a few megachurch pastors’ sermons as podcasts, and one week, I noticed that all of the pastors had the same subtext in a single statement that they made in their sermons: I am a pastor because I was guilty of how I was living. This is like the psychologists who get their doctorates to diagnose themselves. Pastors who are guilty for their sins are going to seminary because they feel that by doing so, they will be forgiven of their sins.

As the old saying goes, this is like buying an airplane because you want the free peanuts.

In order to follow Christ, we must live like Christ, and in order to live like Christ, we must be willing to die to and for Christ. Archbishop Romero died a martyr because he bought into the message of Jesus Christ: Love God with everything you got, and love your neighbor.

Glenn Beck, a man I simultaneously abhor and admire, said that if you belong to a religious institution that is big on social justice, you must get out of that institution as quickly as possible, because anyone for social justice is a socialist, a fascist, and a Communist, all wrapped up into one.

If this is true, then Jesus Christ is the biggest socialist/fascist/Communist/progressive liberal the world has ever seen, and millions upon millions of people follow him every single day.

Ask yourself: why are you on this journey with Christ? Is it because you are guilty of something you did? Or is it because you have died to Him, and are ready to go and change the world for the better?

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