The season of Lent is upon us. Typically, that is a time when Christians are asked to give up something as a sacrifice. The intent is to remember and reflect upon Christ’s 40 days of fasting and overcoming temptation in the wilderness before his “ministry” began.
Fasting or sacrificing during Lent — or at any other time for that matter — is neither right nor wrong. Nor is giving up something you like. But as you contemplate how — or even whether — to participate in Lent in that way, please don’t get caught in the trap of ritual practice IN PLACE OF love of God.
Lent is a time that provides an excellent opportunity to refocus our lives into a deeper spiritual attunement with God. Like Advent leading up to Christmas, Lent is specifically calendared to set aside time and spiritual space for acknowledging our deepest need for a Savior, which was manifest on Easter weekend!
Somehow it also became a time to give up chocolate, or alcohol, or social media, or other supposed vices for 46 days (40 days plus 6 Sundays).
I’d like you to consider a different approach this time. It’s not wrong to give up some kind of habit — good or neutral — for a time. But the bigger purpose of doing something like that with an expectation of drawing closer to God isn’t just to suffer. What would be the benefit of that? When approached with the wrong attitude, participation in the rituals of Lent can easily be a reflection more of Old Testament sacrificing to get God’s forgiveness rather than acceptance of the loving Savior who already took care of that in whatever way we need to view it.