With thanks to my friends at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Vienna, VA, I share this article written for their Lenten booklet on this day, my Dad’s 78th birthday.Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
I always have more willpower during Lent. I used to look forward to its coming and think, okay what am I doing that I really should get under control? Then I’d “give it up for Lent.” One year it was dessert. Another year, peanut m&m’s. Then it was Starbucks coffee. And I could do it! Somehow, during Lent, I could wield God’s willpower when mine was insufficient – but only for 40 days. Almost as if Lent was a trial period. ‘Try God’s willpower for 40 days. If not completely satisfied return it on Easter for a full refund.’
So, why can’t I sustain this willpower the rest of the year? Because it is Holy; it belongs to God. During Lent I don’t just give it up, but I give it up to God, and He shows me what His power can do. By His Spirit He demonstrates what a little bit of Holy feels like in my body and my soul. At my invitation, God is not just in my general vicinity, or in my community, or hanging around in case I should need Him, but He is in me. I am a walking, breathing Temple of the living God.
And then scripture says, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person.” Whoa, that’s protection. It feels good until I think what if I am the one tearing down the temple? How do I treat the temple for the rest of my 325 days?
Here’s what I know: God doesn’t leave me on day 41. He just leaves me to consider that, if I have let Christ in, then whatever I do to me, I do to God. Whatever I do for me, I do for God. As Oswald Chambers puts it, “I must decide whether or not I will agree with my Lord and Master that my body will indeed be His Temple.” Every day, all year long.
It is here that scripture makes its appeal, “…brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
In this is the wisdom of Lent. It may feel like God’s trial period with a money back guarantee. But I see it more as a chance to participate in the building of an indestructible Temple, the Holiest of all places, a life centered in Christ. Not by the power of my will but according to the will of the Father. It comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Today: Have you “given something up” for Lent? Ask God to show you what Holy willpower can do with your offering.