Fourth Sunday of Lent: Change within ourselves comes from light of Christ, NYC pastor says
The faithful around the world are celebrating the Fourth Sunday of Lent this weekend on March 19, 2023.
This special Lenten season is a time to reflect on how change is only possible with the light of Christ, Dr. Michael Keller, senior pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Lincoln Square, in New York City, told Fox News Digital.
“Many of us spend copious amounts of money trying to change our appearances, our prospects and our character,” said Keller.
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT: GOD WILL QUENCH OUR ‘SPIRITUAL HUNGER AND THIRST,’ SAYS BALTIMORE FAITH LEADER
“It is very American to desire change,” he said. “It is less obvious how to achieve it.”
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the apostle writes, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14).
This passage “is often used to encourage waking up and changing,” Keller told Fox News Digital in an interview. “We think [change] is a process of the will to try harder and strive.”
Continued Keller, “Imagine a trainer trying to get you out of bed, saying, ‘Wake up, sleeper! Rise from the dead!’”
He said, “But that is not what Paul is saying here.”
In the biblical era, “there were no alarm clocks or electric lights” — and a person awoke each morning with the rising sun, said Keller.
SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT: GOD’S GREATEST BLESSINGS MAY BE ‘UNEXPECTED,’ SAYS WASHINGTON PASTOR
“In the same way, Paul is saying the way to change, the way to wake up, is not primarily through anything you do, but through Christ shining on you,” he continued.
“Like waking up to the sunshine, change comes naturally when we allow ourselves to bask in the beauty of Jesus’ life and work,” he said.
To illustrate this point, Keller shared the story of Florence Chadwick, a legendary open-water swimmer.
After Chadwick successfully swam the English Channel multiple times, she attempted to swim the distance between Catalina Island and the coast of California in July 1952.
“The weather was foggy, the water was cold, she couldn’t see the land, she couldn’t see her progress … Defeated, she gave up, completely exhausted,” said Keller.
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT: THE TIME IS NOT JUST FOR PENANCE BUT FOR GOD’S ‘ABUNDANT’ MERCY, SAYS FAITH LEADER
When Chadwick made it into the boat, she learned she was not far from her destination.
Yet “because she couldn’t see the shoreline, she didn’t know,” Keller said.
“Two months later, she tried again in the exact same treacherous conditions — thick fog, cold water. But after 14 hours of swimming, she made it to shore,” Keller said.
“When asked how she did it despite the fog, she said that she kept the mental image of the shoreline in her head.”
“It is in resting in his love that we find the power to change.”
Although the circumstances of her swims had not changed, “what allowed her to continue on to complete her work was that she had a vision of the beauty of the shoreline in her head,” said Keller.
As a person begins to recognize the beauty of Jesus’ life and work, “that vision of beauty and rest moves our imagination” — just as Chadwick was able to push through to make it to the shore.
“If Chadwick didn’t require a change in circumstances to achieve her goal — she just needed to see the beauty of the shoreline in her mind — imagine how changed we could be if the beauty of Jesus shined on us,” he said.
“By reflecting on all that he has done for us, on the rest we find in him, and on the love and service he has shown us, we can awaken from our slumber and be filled with the energy to change,” he continued.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is saying that “when Jesus shines like that, then we can wake up from our sleep,” he added.
“Ironically, it is in resting in his love that we find the power to change,” he said.
“Just as Chadwick kept her mental image of the shoreline in her mind, we, too, can keep a vision of Jesus’ beauty and love.”