Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day collide this year. The combination feels bizarre: a day associated with fancy meals and rich desserts has been forced to share a table with one that focuses on our failures. Yet a common thread weaves between: love.
Opening up X this week, I noted that the present beverage brewing tempests were the Internet meltdown over Taylor Swift’s new love interest and the honoring of an alleged Nazi in the Canadian parliament during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit. The invisible thread binding them was the Culture Warriors claiming to fight for Jesus who made these the cause célèbre.
We often say, “I love Jesus.” But how often do you hear, how often do you say, “I like Jesus”?
Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the season of Lent. Countless Christians around the world will receive ashes in the shape of a cross on their forehead to mark the beginning of this time of reflection and repentance. Yet, for those who do not observe the season, this can look an awful lot like legalistic rule keeping or, even worse, an attempt to receive outward praise for superficial humility.
Early in the baseball season last year, I heard a curious commercial on the radio. It was talking about a man rejected by his friends and suddenly ended with “He Gets Us. All of Us.” A few more airings and I realized it was a series of ads about Jesus, describing how his experiences on earth were like our own. Like Jesus Himself, the ads have managed to anger a wide variety of different folks. Jesus gets us, but once again, we struggle to get Him.
A friend recently asked me to chime in on a Twitter conversation in which someone was asserting that Jesus’s disciples did not die over their belief in the Resurrection. Sometimes Twitter arguments can be completely useless, but this one seemed to include some genuine discussion and, as obscure as arguing over why someone died millennia ago may seem, in this case, it means quite a lot.
Reeling from the horrors of 9/11 two decades ago, we entered Afghanistan to eliminate terrorist camps and also try to build a better nation for the people who had been caught under the Taliban’s control. Was it hubris or hope to think we could lastingly accomplish either goal? I’ll leave that discussion for another day, but this week has reminded us of how even our greatest powers stumble.
I make a bold claim, but I think it’s true. Jesus Christ not only came in human flesh to pay humanity’s debt of sin, but in so doing, he elevated human nature. This can and should change how we approach discussions on human rights.
Palm Sunday was yesterday, marking the beginning of Holy Week. A week when Christians remember Jesus’s path toward crucifixion and His subsequent overcoming of death. While both Palm Sunday and Easter are filled with joy, the joy of Palm Sunday is striking in how the crowd was joyful – at least in part – for the wrong reasons.