Jesus Christ: February 40th.
(ThyBlackMan.com) Hello, friend. How are you today? I hope that all is well with you in every aspect. That is my prayer for you. That is my prayer for your loved ones. I’m writing this column on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday – a day of fasting – is the first day of Lent in Western Christianity. It’s observed by several mainline systems of faith including Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians. Biblically, Ash Wednesday corresponds to the 40 days and nights Jesus Christ fasted and prayed alone in the wilderness before he was crucified. The season of Lent ends at Easter. Since we’re now in Lent, let me ask you a serious question. What will you give up or take up over the next 40 days? Is today the day you step up – or will today be merely the latest iteration of your own, personal February 40th?
Here’s a sincere suggestion for those who consider themselves my enemies and/or my critics. Why don’t you resolve to give up hatred for Lent? The local rant-&-rant section never fails to bring a smile to my face. Some of you criticize me for talking about American politics too much, while others criticize me for not talking about American politics enough. Some of you consider me racist simply because I call for all Americans to be treated equally in courtrooms, boardrooms, classrooms, and at voting precincts – as if my doing so somehow makes me evil.
A few of you dare to hate me simply because I love our American President. Guess what? I loved Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, and Nixon before him. I’ll also love the next American President – regardless of his or her name, political party, age, or system of faith. Do you even know why you hate me? What wrong have I done you? Perhaps your hatred is actually proof that you know, deep down, that I might be right sometimes. Perhaps that explains why those who disagree with my viewpoints most vehemently read my column so faithfully.
Maybe this Shakespeare-quoting, Bible-toting preacher is more like you than you care to acknowledge. Temporarily suspend your hatred. Spend more time in the next 40 days doing the things you love most with those you love most. Be willful and deliberate in making some new friends and acquaintances. Are you bold enough – and wise enough – to show yourself friendly between now and Easter? Or will you harden your heart and stay in the same, stagnant state which denies you the ability to be at your very best? Will you actively choose to be better – or bitter?
Here’s a humble suggestion for those who consider themselves practitioners of faith. Why don’t you resolve to take up an additional community service project for Lent? There are countless ways for you to show our Heavenly Father a token of your gratitude for the innumerable blessings He bestows continually each of us. Your work doesn’t have to be enormous or egregious. Follow Christ Jesus’s example. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Give shelter to the homeless. Volunteer at a local school and read to a class or two. Be proactive instead of reactive.
Here’s the thing to remember. Even if no other human being sees your gift of service, you can know with absolute certainty that our Lord and Savior will. Over the next 6 weeks, will you do something to help your brothers and sisters in Christ? Or will you be content in shrugging your shoulders and wondering aloud why so many folks are in need? Will you actively choose to invest a portion of your time, talent, and treasure in someone/something – or not?
Here’s a holistic suggestion for those who consider themselves good Americans. Why don’t you resolve to be Good Samaritans for Lent? I humbly but firmly remind you that while following the laws of man will keep you out of jail, following the laws of God will keep you out of hell. Be mindful that there is no law against love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. From now until Easter, seek the US Constitution’s protections for all citizens of this great nation – not just for you and your crew. Think about Americans who are disadvantaged, disenfranchised, and demonized. Meditate then on how you’d want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Now are you open to change?
I declare that some things in our lives – such as hatred, apathy, and selfishness –need to die so we may live more abundantly.
You understand Lent, friend. Thank you for the service you’re about to render.
For people who choose hate over love, selfishness over selflessness, and darkness over light, they don’t get it. They cannot change. Their edification day isn’t forthcoming. To those unfortunate souls, every day is February 40th. Perpetually.
Staff Writer; Arthur L. Jones, III
This talented brother is a local Minister, weekly featured Democratic Op-Ed columnist, non-profit advisor, and sees the Braves winning it all this fall. Rev. Jones welcomes your comments! Please email him directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.