I felt quite vexed today hearing different people ramble on the radio and TV about Lent and giving up things. This in stark contrast to the vehement anti-Christian views expressed throughout the last few days regarding several ethical issues. On one hand, as a nation, we seem to be pretty settled in our consumerist, relativistic and even agnostic opinions – yet we seem to embrace superficially a Christian tradition.
From another perspective, I feel that as Christians we misunderstand what Lent is all about. I don’t want to be either an apologist for it, neither a critic. Yet, if you decide to keep Lent as a season of sacrifice, prayer and reflection on the marvellous sacrifice of Christ, then, really, really – is giving up chocolate going to enhance your appreciation of His gracious sacrifice? No offence if you decided on that. Just asking myself (out loud)…
Something else, why give up something that you identify as a hindrance to your devotional life, and only do it for 40 days? If it is a hindrance why not give it up for good?
I know that we jokingly wonder whether we can still check Facebook (if that’s you Lent sacrifice) at 00:02 on Ash Wednesday… It seems somehow (I am sure innocently) that we trivialise the idea of a sacrifice.
Having said all this – let’s switch the tone and please allow me to invite you to a revolutionary Lent. If you’re not a Christian and you need to make some healthy changes for your body and mind – do them and do them for life not just for 40 days. I am sure that your health, your family and probably even your work would be better for it.
If you’re a Christian start with the right focus (Christ and the Cross) and keep right focus (Christ and the Cross) throughout. Make it about Him. Make it about His love, grace and sacrifice. And allow the Holy Spirit to continue that transformation daily, for the rest of your life – not just for Lent. Here are some of my contrarian Lent ideas:
- Renounce the self-obsession and self-absorption that pesters us all so incessantly
- Read the Gospels afresh and find many ways to be impacted, moved and amazed by Him
- Relate what you see/discover about Him to others – it is so good!
And then, keep surrendering to God and seek to see these things woven in your mundane lifestyle – advertising Him and His work. Not just for 40 days…J