I’ve had many conversations and read numerous Facebook posts about what people are giving up for Lent this year. With the observance of Ash Wednesday this past week, I thought it would be fitting to devote this post to a couple thoughts about Lent.
While our church does not officially observe Lent, there are many people (elders, staff, and congregation) that do engage in some way with the tradition. Perhaps the most well-known observance is that of abstaining from certain foods or activities. Choosing to go without can be a powerful spiritual exercise. It reminds us of what’s really important and can reveal to us areas that are controlling us. However, this practice can easily be misused. The two major misuses I see are:
- Abstaining to “earn points” with God. We must never forget that it is by GRACE that we are saved, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Going without doesn’t make you more or less acceptable to God. Grace is the unmerited favor of God…we don’t earn. If we earned it, it would no longer be Grace…it would be God’s favor based on our achievement.
- Abstaining out of ritual, devoid of meaning. The whole purpose of Lent is to prepare our hearts and minds for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Giving up something physical without engaging the heart and mind about the coming Holy days severely misses the point.
- I’ve signed up to participate in The Lent Experience. I’d highly recommend you check out http://www.thelentexperience.com/. Even if you’re not interested in participating, there are some great articles in the FYI section of the website.
- I’ve purchased a copy of the book Jesus, Keep Me Near The Cross Edited by Nancy Guthrie. The book contains daily readings from theologians, pastors, authors, etc.