It Was Lent to MeBy Pastor Brian
I take an odd pleasure in the fact that Lent fell before Valentines Day this year. According to Christianity Today, “Nearly one in five Americans celebrated Lent in 2014.” However, when we look at lists of what people are giving up, we are confronted with the pettiness of this 40-day stretch. Perhaps we’re cynical from breaking our New Years resolutions already. Or perhaps it’s just that we are looking for the easiest way of fulfilling our religious obligation. Except for 2 things.
- Lent isn’t a religious obligation, it’s a tool: a season being leant to us each year as an opportunity to prepare our hearts, minds and yes even bodies for Jesus. The season of Lent leads up to Easter, which in our culture is the time people are most likely to respond to the Gospel. Now that’s a celebration I want to be a part of.
- Because of grace, the question isn’t what is the most painful or hardest thing to give up. The question is what will move us forward. That’s why I’m giving up TV for Lent. It’s not that TV is from the devil or a particularly difficult thing to give up. I chose television because it frees up a discrete block of time in the evening to love my family and love myself. I think that partaking of visual media is useful for feeling the pulse of culture, having a change of pace, and can help us become better storytellers. But right now I need to focus on other things. So I’m borrowing this season to do that.
This Lent, when we get into conversations about Lent, let’s ask this question: what are we fasting towards? The result of the Lenten season should be to end up with more than you had at the beginning. This is how Jesus put it: “Every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit (John 15:2).” Fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control, but ultimately, we want more of God (Galatians 5:22).