Giving Up Lent for Lent
For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
(2 Corinthians 6:2)
I don’t take the idea of giving up something for Lent too seriously. Yes, it is an opportunity to prepare for Easter during the 40 days preceding it. Yes, it always helps to do something special for the purpose of self-denial and Christian discipline. A proactive response might be to read the books of Mark and Luke, which would be exactly 40 chapters in 40 days. I often suggest, rather tongue and cheek, to give up sin for Lent. But, we never need a period of waiting before we can come to Christ. And devotion to God is needed every day of the year. “Now is the time of God’s favor!”
Lent can actually be a problem if we take the focus off from Christ and put it on ourselves and our good works. We can’t earn our way into heaven. “For it is by grace you are saved, through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not by works, so no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) Lent is typically a list of do’s and don’ts, often involving abstinence. We may give up meat, alcohol, desserts, television programs, or maybe increase our exercise and personal devotions. Fasting is a good way to boost personal health in physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational ways. However, the greatest breakthroughs are a work of God. Purity comes from the Lord, not from minor adjustments in our character. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior.” (Titus 3:5)
Rev. Wayne Lawson challenges us this way - “Lent is a season of soul-searching, a time for reflection and taking stock. In the earliest days of the Church Lent began as a time of preparation for Easter, and by observing Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus' withdrawal into the wilderness. How can we use the 40 days of Lent to prepare our hearts for Christendom’s most sacred Holy-Day? What do we do during the 40 days to shake ourselves from business as usual to a more spiritually attuned life?”
Yes! Let’s prepare for Easter as the Lord leads us, even if we have to give up the traditional notions of Lent. What will help our walk with Christ right now? God is always ready for us to come just as we are!
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Mo Dunn