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29 March, 2014

Some thoughts on Lent, Grace and “Matatu Philosophy”

While traveling 10 hours from Tenwek (home-home) to Kampala (home) last week we were intermittently amused and dismayed at some of the “matatu philosophy” displayed on the back windows of the taxi vans (matatu—pronounced “mah-tah-too”).Proclamations such as, “Redemption,” “Repent!” and “Behold the Lamb of God” directed our thoughts to Lent.

The “matatu philosophy” statements remind us of what Jesus Christ has done for us. Our redemption came at great cost, given to us as a great gift. Ephesians 1:7—8a tells us, “In Him we have redemption through His blood [His great sacrifice], the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us [His great gift to us].”

No matter how casually one may proclaim on a matatu or read thereon, Christ’s grace, lavished on us is not cheap. The grace through which we have redemption and forgiveness of our trespasses (sins) is not cheap. His shedding of His own blood was not a casual act. He deliberately chose to allow Himself to suffer, lose blood and die so that we might “be made alive together with Christ. This He did, being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us.” (Ephesians 2:4-5b)

While living next to and working in a hospital for decades we saw many trauma patients (many from accidents involving matatu). We helped many people who lost a lot of blood. None of them chose to shed their blood. Remembering those injured patients guides us into a greater understanding of what Christ chose to do for us. This is Lent.

Grace. What a costly gift Christ chose to give. We choose to receive this gift. Now it is up to us to steward it well. And as we do, we notice something…the gift-value increases significantly as it is shared with others.

“Matatu philosophy” may not be the best way to increase the value of this gift, but it does remind those of us who have accepted the gift to steward it well. Grace is not cheap.