Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

The Hard Way

This week begins the liturgical season of Lent. When I was growing up, I did not understand Lent. I thought it was reserved for Roman Catholics. Since I was Southern Baptist, I thought I was exempt; I did not have to give up chocolate like my Catholic friends. As I have grown older, I have come to understand that Lent is for everyone. It is a season of reflection and preparation for Easter.

As we step into this season, we are reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. In our discerning, the work of Jesus on the Cross is an excellent model for us. Jesus did not choose the easy way; he purposefully walked into the difficult for us. He took the painful route because it was the Father’s plan.

This week’s lectionary text from the epistles is 1 Peter 3:18-22. In the context of intense persecution, Peter reminds first century Christians that Jesus took on the arduous work of the Cross for their salvation. Peter writes,

(1 Peter 3:18 NIV11-GK) For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

As we consider the issue of discernment, we are reminded that God often chooses demanding routes. We often gravitate toward the solutions that offer the least resistance. However, Jesus reminds us that the Spirit sometimes leads us down hard paths. I have recently read a book entitled Take the Stairs (by Rory Vaden). Vaden’s book is not a spiritual book. Yet the principles in his book are sound. He encourages his readers to choose the difficult (in terms of self-discipline) now so that they can experience the benefits of their choices in time. Peter reminds us that Jesus chose the painful so that God’s glory could be revealed in time.

As we discern God’s promptings, may we learn that we must sometimes chose the hard, the difficult, the road that others will not want to travel. While it is not easy to get excited about such ventures, we can rest assured that God will walk with us. He will provide what we need along the way. The season of Lent is a reminder that Jesus chose the hard way for us. May we learn to model him as we authentically seek God’s leading in our lives and in our churches.