Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Taking the "M" out of "OMG"

Recently I was giving a talk to a group of young adults about vocation and discernment. Trying to be trendy I cheekily named the talk "OMG, where am I going?" I know, cheesy right?

But when we look at that acronym, we see a big "M" in the middle of it. The problem with the "M" in "OMG" is that it literally puts "me" in the center. It's a mentality that has run rampant in our world: the world revolves around me. Even for those of us who would call ourselves well meaning Christians, it's so easy to get caught up in "what am I meant to be doing with my life?" We make ourselves the subject.

The danger of the "M" in "OMG" is that it can minimise the relevance of God in the equation. We turn in on ourselves, ignoring the needs of the community and ignoring the relationship we have with God. The search for God becomes a search for meaning within ourselves. We become mystic naval gazers.

Remember the Exodus story? The Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians, God brings plagues upon the Egyptians and leads the Israelites to freedom through the parted Red Sea (Exodus 4-15). Despite their new found freedom, the Israelites were still focused on the "M": they grumbled about a lack of food and water (Ex 15-16) and even created new gods (Ex 32) to satisfy their own desires (as a side note: the Israelites complained about a lack of food and water, but were resourceful enough to make a statue of a calf out of gold? Priorities people!) They wandered aimlessly around the desert for 40 years until they were ready to follow God into the Promised Land. Their search for meaning was based on themselves, not on God.

But what happens when we take the "M" out of "OMG"? We're left with a beautifully simple prayer: "O God!" We take ourselves out of the picture, we strip away all the extra crap that might be weighing us down, and we turn completely to God. "O God" can be a prayer of joy, a prayer of anger, a prayer of lament or a prayer of confusion.

In Lent we're presented with another "desert" experience, one that dramatically contrasts the Israelites desert wandering. Jesus spends 40 days and 40 nights in the desert (Matthew 4). But far from aimlessly wandering, he is lead to the desert by the Spirit, where even though he is tempted by the devil, his focus is still on God.

The question for us in the last two weeks of Lent is which is our desert experience? Have our Lenten practices led us to God, or led us to the "M"? That's a question not just for Lent, but as we live out the Easter mystery throughout our whole lives: how will the death and resurrection of Jesus lead us to know, love and serve God and other? Or like the Israelites in the desert, will we worship the golden calves of our consumerist society?

As we prepare for the mystery of Easter, let's take the "M"out of "OMG", and whichever season of life we find ourselves in let our prayer be simple and focused: "O God!

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