Thursday, February 18, 2010

Don't Give Up Anything For Lent

Lent is the 46 days (that's 40 regular days plus's complicated) between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

Wow, that sentence had a lot of capitalized words in it.

Anyway, the tradition of Lent has morphed and mutated over time to come to resemble temporary & item specific fast. We "give something up" for a few weeks.

You know the regular things:

I'd bet somewhere, someone is even considering to give up "punching people in the face" for Lent.


Because for many of us, Lent has turned into a Christian version of a new year's resolution. Some of us give up things that we probably shouldn't be doing anyway. Vices we have, indulgences that we take part of.

And I'm not against people bettering themselves, or using whatever metric they can to help them out of a problem. I'm really not.

But I don't like what Lent has turned into. Lent has nearly become a temporary legalism, where we indulge in our legalistic desires to put extra rules onto our lives and our faith; I don't see this all as the point of Lent.

I think instead, you should not give up anything for Lent

What if instead, we really looked at Lent as a season of kicking up our spiritual devotion to God and to each other?

Lent is a period of reconciliation. The early church had a habit of "putting people out of fellowship" with it when they did an egregious sin....they kicked them out. And at Lent every year, those people had the opportunity to come back into the church and receive forgiveness and restoration from the church body.

What if we adopted some variation of that practice for Lent?

Not the kicking out part...

The radical forgiveness part

What if during Lent, instead of worrying about eating those chocolates we still have from Valentine's Day; we intentionally sought out those who are "out of fellowship" with the body of Christ?

If we looked at friends of ours, people we knew who for whatever reason have stopped going to church. Maybe they weren't kicked out, maybe they just felt that way. Maybe they kicked themselves out. Maybe they got burnt on church, and frankly hate it. What if we took this time and spent our energy welcoming them back into a restoring community...even if it's just a small one.

What if we tried, with everything we have, to mend broken relationships in our lives? Sacrificing our pride or our "being right" in an effort to restore others to a full relationship with us?

What if, as Paul says in Romans 12:18, as far as it depends on us we lived at peace with everyone? If we were intentional about this, what kind of change could we see in people's lives? In our own lives?

I think it may be a bit more powerful than not watching American Idol for 6 weeks.