What is “Lent”?
Read Matthew 4:1-11
Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a time of preparation for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days to prepare for the ministry and mission that was the Gospel
Why do people “give things up” for Lent?
Christians think about their lives and “give up” things like a “fast” in order to constantly remind themselves about the sacrifice and saving work of Christ. Just as Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and fasted from food, it is an act of “being like Christ” and following His example in our lives. We give things up in order to be reminded of Christ in our fasting, not because “giving up things” makes us a better Christian or a holier person.
The period goes from Ash Wednesday (which has passed) and goes until Easter.
Am I a "bad Christian" if I don’t give up something for Lent?
Not necessarily. People willingly give up something from their lives to be like Christ and to fast from it to remind them of His suffering for us. It should not be something that is forced BUT it is a good practice of spiritual maturity and discipline to challenge ourselves to grow more like Him. That’s why people give up what they love or may distract them from spending time reflecting on God or distract them from time with the Word. Some examples are favorite foods, “Facebook”, texting, talking on the phone too much, chatting online, a relationship that may be distracting (boy/girl) etc. The key is that it truly does “cost you something” and really is a willing sacrifice to draw closer to God (1 Chronicles 21:23-25).
a humble Suggestion and encouragement:
In many past “Lent” seasons, people give up specific things for a variety of reasons. I want to challenge us to give up ourselves (you can simply participate in this spiritual discipline or add it onto whatever else you desire to sacrifice). I propose that we (as an English Ministry) give up our “prime time”. That is, the time during our evening when we are most busy and likely to be distracted by school, people or simply wasting time (TV, facebook, games etc).
Here is what I propose:
Starting today until Easter (roughly 40 days) for 30 minutes between 8 and 830 pm (the heart of our evenings), we give up everything and do nothing but specifically focus on Christ. This means we stop: eating, homework, studying, talking, listening to music, being around others, watching media, going to the bathroom, taking water breaks…EVERYTHING! We turn off our cell phones, laptops, TVs etc. We wholly turn ourselves, literally and figuratively, to Christ. And in this 30 minutes, we pray, reflect, confess and read the Word of God.
It is the time and the season to remember and recommit our hearts to faithfulness in Christ as we remember His suffering and passion for our redemption in the wilderness and on the cross.
Some texts to consider:
2 Corinthians 5:11-21, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come”
Romans 8:18-39, “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”
Ephesians 1:7-14, “In Him, we have redemption through His blood…”
Isaiah 43:1-7, “I have summoned You by name, you are Mine…”
Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd…”
After the time you have committed is passed, be sure to take some time and pray and at the end of the prayer, close with “The Lord’s Prayer”:
“Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts (sin) as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever
In the season of anticipating Christ’s resurrection and victory, let us run the race with excellence (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)!
In Christ's service, and yours.