Lent is a season for personal and corporate spiritual renewal. During this season, the Christ follower is to look within and ask, “Am I living my life as though it were worthy of someone to die?” The history of Lent unveils traditions rich with meaning including times of intense study of God’s Word, meditation, prayer and self-examination.
Lent is a time to die to self and to the power that sin has over our lives. The desire during this season is that God would create in us clean, broken and contrite hearts. Theologian Robert Webber states,
While it is God who creates that new heart in us through grace, we are called on to receive God’s grace in repentance, a turning from our sin, and in faith, a turning toward God. We are assisted in this journey of turning through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving – external disciplines that order and organize the internal experience of our continuing conversion. (Webber, Ancient-Future Time, 120-21)
An authentic journey through Lent leads to repentance – to turn away from sin and to turn to God. Our lives are shaped internally through external disciplines as we spiritually prepare to experience the power of the resurrection in our own lives. Lent provides an opportunity to be spiritually formed through the external disciplines of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.
The tradition of giving something up during Lent (i.e. chocolate, soda, Facebook, etc.) comes from the historical precedent of fasting. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, and many others in the Bible fasted. Jesus himself fasted for forty days (which is why Lent lasts for forty days) in order to focus his attention on his mission and journey to the cross. Fasting helps us to focus on what is important. The pangs we feel during our fast remind us that our faith requires sacrifice. It helps build discipline and character. Yet, fasting is not only about giving something up, it is about taking something (or someone) on. We give up something in order to take on more of the likeness of Christ and grow deeper in our relationship with God.
So, what can you give up during this season of Lent in order to help you focus on Christ?
Soda? Facebook? Gossip?
And, what will you take on to help you focus on Christ?
Set daily prayers; Regular devotions; Feeding the homeless.