The first line in the book of faith 40 day Lenten journey today was this; “The Lord’s Prayer is for ordinary people – not spiritual athletes.”
Ok, two things.
One… I cannot see the phrase “Ordinary People” and not think of the movie by the same name. Dreadful, dreadful movie… fine it’s a compelling story, and it was the first movie Robert Redford directed… big whoop. You see, in my youth we thought it would be cool to go to a drive in movie. So late one fall before the drive in closed down up in Madison, a bunch of us headed up to catch the show… A double feature… except the movies we thought we were going to see were the ones that were there the week before so this bunch of teenaged boys got stuck watching “Ordinary People” and “the Great Santini” In today’s parlance… these were “Chick flicks” if I ever saw them… maybe it would have been great if I had gone to the movie with a date… but noooooo…
I have been emotionally scarred for life.
Anyway… I digress, again!
Not spiritual athletes? I didn’t catch the place where Jesus said, when you pray, if you are an ordinary person pray this way… Our Father… However, if you are a spirutal athlete, then… you can’t pray this prayer.
Fine I may be picking a nit here… but I really struggled going any deeper in our devotions because of that beginning. Now I know the author of our devotions wasn’t picking on the fine folks at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, but he was picking on the smug self-righteous folks Jesus so often struggled with.
When we pray this petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Save us from the time of trial” we are acknowledging our need for help because despite our best intentions, we often make the wrong choices in life.
Anyway the story goes this way the Pharisee bellows out his prayers stating his qualifications and his holy life style and he gives thanks that he isn’t like that pond scum of a tax collector over there. (For Pete’s sake… he did this out loud for everyone to hear, shesh you can tell he wasn’t born and raised in the Midwest!) Then it is the tax collectors turn… and he basically prays… dear Lord have mercy on me cause, whoa… I have messed up, shoot I am messed up!
The point here is that the tax collector was counting on God’s righteousness, the Pharisee… he is what we call self-righteous.
Getting back to the core of my rant, I don’t have a problem with spiritual athletes praying this prayer, because often the best of them know they can’t do it alone. Nearly any professional athlete worth his or her salt will tell you it is the coaches and team mates that make them successful. Spiritual athletes will tell you the same. It is God who saves, it is Christ who justifies, we are who we are because of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.
Now… spiritual actors… now there is another kettle of fish! Not that acting is a bad profession or avocation, but if your spiritual life is all an act… uuuuboy do we have a problem. I think that was the Pharisee’s problem, his prayer was all a show… the real guy under the fancy robe and the social status was not all that different from the tax collector.
Self -righteousness is just a form of self deception, of acting, but not really being the part. In this prayer we ask that as we are who we are, God would come to us all; spiritual couch potatoes or spiritual athletes, the sinners, the self-righteous and whatever category you place yourself in and as we pray I hope we learn to trust that God can control even those temptations that would undo us.
Well I have gotten too wordy again… Sorry!
Oh… and I thought this was cool too. You can’t point this web site to another web site or you can type in your own words and the tweak this lovely little word picture thingy.. it is a http://www.wordle.com