Of reincarnation and Ash Wednesday

Some people are not content to be resurrected every single morning when they awaken from their beds, nor to have the hope of eternal life once they give up their earthly existence, so they invent the idea of reincarnation. The endless ups and downs of good and bad stretched over a countless number of lives holds no attraction for me.

When man became darkened in his understanding of God’s ways, he still held some sense of justice. Together with conscience and the Ecclesiastesian heart which yearns for eternity, that sense of justice searches beyond mankind (not peoplekind, sorry, Mr. Trudeau) and the present age for balance. Things ought to be different. Justice ought to be done. So let’s imagine another life in which we pay for our bad deeds and people are rewarded according to what they do and say in the flesh.

Once the human mind rejects the ways of God, all sorts of twists and turns appear as religious observances. Special calendar days, now so dearly beloved by increasing numbers of Luther’s descendants and even by some who falsely praise A. Campbell, also produce a dark side to their devotion.

Carnaval, for example, falling this year on February 13 and starting not a few days before that, began in response to Ash Wednesday, that high church liturgy which calls people to repent and believe in the gospel by marking their foreheads with a cross of ashes. Excuse the tongue in cheek, but before you have to go and repent of sins, engage in some sins to repent of. So you also get Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, another form of Carnaval, to gorge before the required fast.

Whenever man abandons the simple plan of salvation and sanctification offered him by God in Jesus Christ, death and destruction abound. Religion then becomes more of the same — worship of creation rather than the Creator and God’s disapproval of man’s offerings.

Before such a flood of dissolution and a religious devotion that explodes on the launchpad, Christians, at the behest of their Redeemer, hold forth the word of life and call everyone to repentance, not only on Ash Wednesday but on Fat Tuesday and on every day of the year. They repent of their own sins at every opportunity. They rejoice in God’s goodness by enjoying his gifts with thanksgiving. They exercise self-control and reject the sins of immorality and excess. They fast and pray constantly.

For the true saints of God there are no special days. God set no religious calendar, no liturgical celebrations, no established chants or readings, no rituals imposed by human authorities.

From reincarnation to Ash Wednesday, from atheism to polytheism, the mind of man worships his own creation. Those who serve the Creator feel, like righteous Job, “anguish over the debauched lifestyle of lawless men” 2 Peter 2.7. They devote themselves even more, if possible, to being true followers of Christ and to proclaiming the one and only gospel of salvation, by exalting the place of Scripture for faith and the power of God’s Holy Spirit in order to express, every day, their participation in the divine nature, 2 Peter 1.4.

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet. His microblog is randal.us.

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