Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lent!


It's that time of year again: LENT!

I have long been a critic of Lent. Supposedly, Lent originally began as a way for Catholics to remind themselves of the value of repentance. Lent was a time to step back, self-reflect, and grieve over our past wrongs and moral failures. And after we've cried it out...we make a personal commitment to stop the behavior that caused us grief and live better.

Hallelujah! Nothing to be critical of there. We are all called to repentance. But...let's keep it real. So few Lenten seasons result in true repentance. In fact, it's not even really designed to do so:

Practically Speaking: We give something up for 46 interrupted days (there are 6 Sundays when you're FREE). At the end of these 46 days, the thing that we gave up returns.

Biblically Speaking: 

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:“Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. - Colossians 2:20-23


Lent can be a time of self-inflicted self-deprivation. And what's messed up about it is that it doesn't have the power to change you. Repentance is the beginning of transformation. And Lent, as it is currently celebrated, is not geared towards transformation! 

And yet...here I am. Trying to write in this blog (which I truly abandoned) for Lent. Why? 

Because I wanted to. 

Because I didn't need Lent to feel sorry. Most people who are planning to give up something are already sorry and are dealing with repentance and sorrow over sin in their personal spiritual journey. 

I know what Lent is "supposed" to be about, but why does it have to be that?  It does not necessarily have to be 40 days of transformation or some other lofty goal. Sometimes you just want to do...something. For God. To God. And let that be that. Transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit anyway: 

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. - John 14:26

I think I've been cynical of Lent because I still didn't understand my job. My job is not to kickstart and manage my own salvation. If it was...then yes...giving up chocolate is a poor start. But rather, we live in a time of grace where God is the author and finisher of our faith. So, since we live in a time of faith, where by faith our sacrifices are accepted (Hebrews 11:4), it doesn't matter what you give up, or what you start up for Lent. If it's done in faith, it's probably perfect. 



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