Man it’s cold!

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This past Sunday at church the heat was out. It was pretty cold and I found myself struggling to get into the worship and the message. I began to wonder that if I were required to worship in the cold every week would I still be interested in following Jesus. I know all the good Christians out there are clamoring of course they would still be able to worship, but this thought has really challenged me. How is my devotion to Christ when I am hungry, or cold, or overly hot, or without shelter, or whatever the scenario may be. Do I really seek Him first no matter what? Honestly, I was thinking more about the cold Sunday morning than Jesus, and it saddens me.

 

As I thought about it the last couple days I was reminded of Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who in 1943 theorized that there is a hierarchy of needs that all individuals have that determines how they process life. The basic premise is that until individuals are satisfied on certain levels of need they will never transcend to explore the next level of need.  Maslow proposed that things like food, shelter, and security exist at lower levels in the hierarchy and are considered first before  things like concepts of  morality and community. So in a way, it kind of made sense that I was unable to focus on Jesus in the midst of being cold. Right?

 

I wish I could let myself off that easy, but I can’t help but think there is something deeper at play here. Am I just walking around here wearing my Christian button or do I truly believe in the Risen Christ? Do I really feel that my sin has separated me from a holy and just God whose only holy and just response to my sin would be to punish it? Is there an invisible Kingdom of God that is forcefully advancing against the power of sin and death or am I just playing church? Is Jesus the basis of my need hierarchy or am I just to cold to care?

 

The one big take away for me over the last few days of thinking about this is a new perspective on the spiritual discipline of fasting. I have traditionally not been very purposeful or consistent when it comes to this discipline. I am confident that there is a good biblical mandate for fasting. Jesus fasted for 40 days at the beginning of His earthly ministry.  Additionally in Matthew 6:16, Jesus uses the terminology “When you fast…” opposed to “if you fast” indicating that He saw fasting as a discipline that should be practiced. 

 

I think what we ultimately find in the discipline of fasting is a willful denial of our basic needs such as food and replacing it  with an intentional reliance on the sustaining presence and power of God through Jesus. Fasting allows us to reorder Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with Jesus as the first and foremost need for all individuals. I think this is the challenge for me. If my need for food or heat can throw off my devotion to Jesus, then how will I respond when I am tested by persecution or sacrifice? I need to be purposeful in my reliance on Jesus.

 

How about you guys? Do you struggle to worship when it cold or when it’s close to lunch time or when the big game is coming on?

 

Grace and peace.

 

Tony

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7 thoughts on “Man it’s cold!

  1. Yes, there are certainly times that I struggle to keep any sort of focus on worship and other times all of the minor annoyances of life seem to be silenced for the duration of the service. For example, if I arrive at the service having back pain and pray for relief, most of the time the pain vanishes. The discipline is to think of God first and pray, which is not in our nature as we tend to think about what is bothering us rather than focus on all the gifts we have been given. For example, while fasting I tend to think about how hungry I am, instead of being thankful that God provides me with plenty of food. Lately, I have not been fasting and maybe it’s time to start. Thanks for the message.
    God bless,
    -jim

  2. Good post babe, I struggled with the cold air at church also on Sunday but it was pretty neat to see how many people had warm hearts because I received lots of hugs, now that makes me think they just wanted some body heat. Just kidding. This a good post to make us think about how deep is our love for Jesus.
    Jenny

  3. Good post brother. Think about how a homeless person would feel….no food, no shelter, cold…..praise Jesus…I did a homeless service the other night and some folks gave their lives to Christ. Went outside…where it was cold and I had a short sleeved shirt on….a few people needed prayer then and there for addictions… I was cold and was very distracted. I am with you bro.

    thanks for the reminder on fasting…..ouch…been putting that aside lately.
    louie

  4. Good message Bro. I too was a little distracted by the cold that day. But on the flip side it did keep me a little alert. This just goes to show you how powerful our flesh is. In the Army we are trained to ignore our circumstances and stay focused on the mission. Whether it’s going 36 hours with no sleep or pulling guard duty out in the rain, we have to stay focused. We are taught that the enemy operates in these conditions also and it’s at these times that we are most vulnerable for an attack. I think our spiritual enemy works in the same way. So the trick is how we train ourselves to focus on Jesus and not on our circumstances. Like you said fasting could be one of them. I can’t remember who said this quote but it goes like this “if you don’t feed something for a while sooner or later it will die” I think they were talking about addictions but I think the same applies to fasting. Having gone on many diets I have found that after a while your body gets use to not eating as much and I find myself not craving food like I would normally do. I still have to read up on fasting and try to incorporate it into my spiritual walk. I also have to fast against the other things that rob me of my time with God. Thanks for the post Bro!

  5. Chris,
    Nice analogy, so the enemy attacks when we are distracted most. That means fasting is training ourselves to be focused when we are under distraction or attack. Maybe we could pick a day and fast as a group, start out with no solid-food during daylight hours one day a week. That’s what I was doing about a year ago and it isn’t too hard but you definitely know your hungry by dinner. Thoughts?
    -jim

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