Extravagant

If you were reading here a couple years ago, you may remember that I talked about  a course I teach called “Spiritual Formation”. At the very beginning of the course, I have the learners do this reflection:

I want to you to take five minutes to answer this question: How would you like to be known in five years? You can’t talk about jobs. We’ve got no control over that. We’re talking about the kind of person you want to be. If you and I were friends and in five years we met someone new, how would you want me to introduce you?

cup and plateAnd then I have them tell a couple other people in the group, and then I have one of the people in their small group introduce them to the rest of us. By how they want to be known.

The latest time I taught the course, I noticed something about the answers. People used adjectives like faithful. One person wanted to support people invisibly. Another wanted to be caring.

No one wanted to be awesome.

It’s not a spiritual word, I suppose. It’s not very humble, not much like a servant leader. But I’ve been thinking a lot about working toward being an awesome servant, an awesome friend, an awesome mentor.

If you had a choice between being a good servant and an awesome servant, is there anything wrong with being awesome?

I ask this because we are on the verge of Lent, of a season of turning toward God and away from what distracts us, turning toward others and away from ourselves. Turning, perhaps toward extravagance and away from indulgence.

The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, today, is about indulgence, about eating everything you can because the fasting starts tomorrow. But what if tomorrow could be about extravagance, about giving more than simply giving up? What if, starting tomorrow, we asked God to help us learn to be awesome followers of an awesome God.

I mean, wouldn’t that be awesome?

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This, by the way, is consistent with how Isaiah redefines fasting. He quotes God saying,

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter, when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

 

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