Robert Stevenson | @ap_527
Due: February 7th; to post: February 9th.
This was the mandate for my first contribution to BackRowOnline and I was not looking to disappoint. Other ministry commitments demanded that I have the article in earlier than the due date, so I got to work as soon as I could. I wrestled over which type of article to write, decided upon a Twitter Spotlight, and then spent more hours combing through tweets than a Spaceball with a broken afro pick. It was not until the night I ultimately submitted the article that I realized *I* would have the last humor piece posted before the Lenten season began. There are many Christians who would forego social media and/or pinch down their web browsing altogether during the next forty days; I would get to be one of the last voices they read before turning the faucet down or off completely. Looking to backtrack my missed opportunity, I thought to myself, “I should write something profound, yet laughter-producing. Deep, yet dedicated to a smile. Soul-searching, yet side-splitting.”
“Nuts to that. I’m almost done with this article and I ain’t startin’ over. I haven’t even finished my Sunday School lesson yet!” **SEND**
I am not discounting the Twitter Spotlight, nor the hilarious The Sarcastic Pastor (@RevSarcasm) who we showcased. But I was stuck with this question: How did Lent slip by me?
As my wife is fond of saying about holidays in general, “It comes at the same time every year!” Our church has done a forty-day corporate “Daniel-fast” every year for the past nine or ten years. From the beginning of Ash Wednesday till the end of Easter Sunday, we are in God Mode. No… no, not “God Mode” like invincible, code-bending, unlimited power-up having… no. Like, “focused-on-God” Mode. Dedicated-to-the-Lord Mode. Jesus-take-the-wheel Mode.
The pastor had already prepped us about fasting from the pulpit. I had discussed Lent season sacrifices at length during a Bible study not even a week prior. My body is already pre-trained to say “so long, lasagna; praise the Lord, cantaloupe!” Yet, and still, the fast seemed to sneak up on me. I was still pondering these things after the fast started when the answer became loud and clear while going through Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” audiobook.
You’re lukewarm, homie.
You are not hotly, fervently seeking God during this time. You are religiously box checking. You are not cold either. You did not say “I ain’t doin’ the fast this year.” You said “eh… I’ll think about it.” It was kind of a given, but not given much thought. “Yeah, I guess I’ma do it. I mean, everyone else is too, right? The guys at work know I’m Christian, so shouldn’t I be walking in the cafeteria with cashews and a veggie burrito bowl? I mean, if wifey’s fasting I guess I will too. She does the grocery shopping after all, right?”
Lukewarm people ride the fence, but I have yet to meet a man that can comfortably straddle a picket fence. Lukewarm Christians make Jesus want to puke (Revelation 3:16). Do you know what IS lukewarm? Boiled hot dog water that has that film over it because it has been sitting on the stove for six hours. Now picture yourself drinking a 20oz. bottle of that (my apologies if you hurled all over your device).** Gross, right? If we would not drink that, why would we expect God to drink that?
“Thanks for the whiny glum news and disgusting mental images Robert. I thought this was the light-hearted section of the site. Got any good news?”
Yup. Revelation 3:19 - As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
If you are in the same sail barge as me, er, floating sky-boat thing… um. If you are in the same hover ...ark, flying… Jabba…
If you were convicted of LUKEWARM LENT like me, take heart. Conviction ≠ condemnation. God loves you, brother!! God is crazy about you, sister!! That is why He corrects us and, thanks to Christ, gives us multiple chances to get it right (1 John 1:9, 2:1).
He tells us exactly what kind of fasting He is looking for in Isaiah 58 (read it, really). Heck, even Yoda gave a lukewarm “I-don’t-believe-it-that-is-why-you-fail” faithless Luke Skywalker multiple chances. And if an unofficial Muppet can forgive The Joker, correct him, and continue to disciple him, how much more shall our Heavenly Father forgive us jokers, correct us, and continue to disciple us (thank the Maker!)?
Don’t worry about how the guy on the seat next to you is fasting or even if he is fasting at all. Don’t sweat it if you swore off meat and have been to Chick-Fil-A twenty-six times in the last thirteen days. Don’t even sweat it if you started fasting during Lent purely to check off the “I obeyed the pastor” box on your I’m A Good Christian Checklist®.
If you are lukewarm during Lent (or at any time!) just stop where you are, confess it to God, and ask Him to re-light the pilot light that makes you burn for Him. Then do what you are supposed to do. See if God does not do the impossible.
**[Disclosure: The author of this article is pre-biased against hot dogs as he finds them to be the vilest creation ever devised to be consumed and would rather attempt to eat a live, three-legged, un-shorn porcupine than to eat 2cm of your favorite brand wiener. Seriously. Have an apple instead.]
Robert Stevenson is a Jesus-loving goofball from Indianapolis who believes life is too serious to be so serious. He teaches Sunday School to middle schoolers, probably because he's as mentally developed as they are. He's a bit of a clown so he married a beautiful woman who's addicted to giggling. He actually sits close to the front row. Don't tell Matt. Robert enjoys SNES games, cantaloupe, sci-fi, biblical cross-referencing, shattering stereotypes, and speaking in the third person. YOU can contact him on Twitter @ap_527.