I recently reread Tolstoy’s story The Three Hermits. It is a charming, whimsical yet deep tale about…
Well, see, there’s the problem. If I tell you what’s in it you won’t have the pleasure of reading it. I don’t want to blog a big spoiler.
So I’ll just share this note that I scribbled to myself after reading it: You become what you imitate. ’nuff said right there.
It’s Ash Wednesday, and one way to look at Lenten disciplines is imitation of holiness, so that we might grow in holiness. That’s not alien to the New Testament:
Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. (Philippians 3:17 NAB)
Sometimes the need to imitate holiness is stimulated by our frustration with lack of holiness. Sincere reading and hearing of Scripture, followed by our inability to apply it in daily life, can irritate us and send us looking for holy examples to imitate.
This thought about frustration came not from great literature, but from a song that popped up on the car radio the other day. The video has a bit o’ the sensual about it, so it that’s a problem you can skip down and I’ll give you the relevant lyrics…
Doctor, doctor won’t you please prescribe me somethin’
A day in the life of someone else?
‘Cause I’m a hazard to myself
Don’t let me get me, I’m my own worst enemy
It’s bad when you annoy yourself so irritating
Don’t wanna be my friend no more
I wanna be somebody else
For Christians, this frustration and longing to be somebody else comes with a big spoiler…
you’ve been warned…
don’t look if you don’t want to know…
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NLT)
The holiness is already there within you. Trusting Him – by imitating him and by relying upon his self-offering when you don’t – is the right outcome of any discipline, Lenten or any time.
May your Lent be blessed with greater discovery of the life of Christ within you, already transforming you into His likeness.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21 ESV)
Oh, dang it, that was another spoiler, wasn’t it?