Collect for the Fifth Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Disordered affections. That is our problem, at least according to Augustine. Our affections are out of order. What does that mean?
Most of us are not notorious sinners. We aren’t mass murderers. We don’t run Ponzi schemes. What trips us up, often unbeknownst to us, are lessor offenses. And the reason they trip us up is because they don’t seem like offenses. In fact, they may not be offenses at all. Rather, they are innately neutral or even good. Confused? Here’s the deal.
I love my dog. He is a great dog. But my dog should not be at the summit of my loves. That would be weird. It would also be disordered. Our peak love should be God.
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). There is no wiggle room. We are to love God completely and with everything we have and are. It is to be an all-consuming love that stands over and above all other loves.
So do you love God above everything else? Be honest. If you aren’t sure here is a test. How do you spend your time and your money? These are the best indicators of our affections.
For a lot of us, God is important… but maybe not our supreme love. It’s not intentional but other things, people or activities crowd God out of our lives and hearts. Little by little, God becomes marginalized. In other words, our affections become disordered. And all too often, we aren’t even aware of it.
Lent is time to examine ourselves and to do a reset where needed. So ask this: where is God in my life… really?
Dear God, help us love you above all else. Amen.