The Lenten Musings 38
Read: Acts 3, 10
Being famous and becoming a celebrity can sometimes be little hard in some point of life. Tim Tebow the New York Jets quarter back recently realized that truth. Being celebrity has a price to pay. He was supposed to make an appearance and speak at the First Baptist Church in Dallas in April and this event was a much publicized event. Soon critics started warning Tebow about his association with this particular Baptist church because of the controversy that surrounds its senior pastor, Pastor Robert Jeffress. Robert Jeffress has been criticized for his anti-gay stand, for being adamant and his so called conservative stand on many issues. Many sports writers started warning Tebow, telling him that he is going to make the biggest mistake in his life. Another sports writer told him "after a season of sidelines, the ball is in your hands, Timmy better not fumble with this one". Soon Tebow's appearance in this particular Baptist church became a topic of huge controversy. Not ready to court controversy, Tim posted a message in his Facebook page stating that he has decided to cancel his scheduled appearance in April, without assigning any specific reason for his cancellation. But he states that " While I look forward to sharing the message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas, due to the new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring faith, hope and love to all those needing a brighter day".
With Tebow cancelling his appearance in the church, even that has brought in a share of controversy. Here is a celebrity who wanted to make an appearance in the church and speak about gospel but suddenly he realizes that his association or the appearance in that particular church may cost him many things that are precious in his life. Moreover one of the things that have been over emphasized is that, when celebrity like Tebow comes to certain church's, it is his appearance that has a greater value more than his message. Tim Tebow is a celebrity, a star and hence I know that when he comes to a particular church, his appearance is a news item and a sought after event. But that is where I think most of us have become like Tebow. We all have become a so called star or celebrity in the making by only making guest appearances in church or when we have some important assignment given to us by the parish. Is Christian life and living all about appearances in church?
One of the teaching that the Word of God and faith tradition that we find in the Word is that, our attendance in the Church is not to be considered as something as an appearance that we do once in a week. In Lent, the church encourages its members to order one's life style so that we can spend some more time reflecting on the Word of God and for prayer. What is needed in the life of a believer is not casual attendance or casual observance as prayer, but conscious reordering of one's life and disciplining one's life in an attitude and lifestyle of prayer. We think Christian lifestyle is all about making a casual appearance in the church occasionally, but the word of God teaches us that being a Christian means to deliberately discipline our life through prayer and worship. In the book of Acts, we find some disciplines that the apostles kept in their life. In Acts 3 we find that Peter and John going to the temple at the ninth hour and this hour is also considered as the hour of prayer [ Acts 3:1]. We also find Cornelius who was centurion a person who fears God, also praying at the ninth hour [ Acts 10]. Later we also find the Peter also goes to the housetop at the sixth hour to pray [ Acts 10: 9]. Even in the Old Testament, we find Daniel praying at different times of the day. Praying in disciplined way and manner. Thus we see that through the life style that apostle or some men of God in the old testament, a conscious re ordering of one's life through a sense of discipline, in one's attitude to life, worship and prayer. Today discipline or order is something that we do not like to hear. We want everything especially in our spiritual attitudes and practices to be very casual and very informal. Our attitude to church, worship and prayer is like Tim Tebow making a guest appearances in one of the Church's. Tim Tebow is a celebrity and that is what makes him to do guest appearance. But in the life of a Christian we are not to make guest appearances in worship or having a very casual attitude with regards to prayer and worship, but a conscious re ordering of one lie so that we exhibit discipline and order both in our lifestyle, in worship and in prayer. Let lent be a time of disciplining ourselves so that we take our Christian practices like prayer and worship more seriously.
Rev. Dr. Joe Joseph Kuruvilla