March 8, 2011
I typically give up whining for Lent. I figure if I ever get through a whole Lent without whining that should definitely contribute to that "emptying of self." <br><br>But it's soooo hard. People are mean and thoughtless, my joints ache, gas costs too much....waaah, waaah, waaah. (not Lent yet)
Would have been easier to just start with Isaiah 58 ("is this the fast that I have chosen...), as your opinion actually mirrors what was said there than "tradition" which has been espoused by your commenters?
I too give up nothing for Lent. My focus is trying to walk out the revelation that I have been given everything in Christ and that I need to live life from the inside out rather than let the ways of the world trying to get me to conform.
Some time ago I read a book (title & author escapes me) with the concept of "celebrating" Lent, with fasting & feasting, in more of a spiritual than a traditional physical disciplining on the way to Easter. Fasting from negativity---whining, gossip, arrogance, cold-heartedness, etc (this list is a long one!)---and feasting on the positive---praising, encouraging, humility, generosity, etc (an equally long list!). All done within the context of making the positive Spirit-filled attributes, take root in the heart and bloom year-round, not just be seasonal.<br>One symbol of Lent I have come to appreciate is the emphasis of the ashes: the sign of the cross is traced on the forehead with ash, with the reminder that just as in baptism's forehead mark with water we are sealed in life unto God, likewise, the ash shows our humanity and mortality. Lenten celebration or observance points me to the Cross, and makes me long for Easter and the Resurrection. Lent, as in other seasons of the church year, amplified by the lectionary, is part of the full story, a chapter not to be skimmed or skipped.
As someone who routinely gives up "trivial" things but for deeper reasons, I'd appreciate it if, instead of scoffing, people would ask me why I'm giving up something silly like playing tetris online. Maybe it's because I know that I am called to be in a community and thus need to work harder at putting myself out there rather than sitting at home playing a game...<br><br>And as a leader in the church, I'd appreciate it if people would ask for motives behind all of our discipleship acts. We have to get to the heart of the matter, no matter how great or small the act. If the goal and reasoning is to do a better job of living as Christ lived, empowered by the Holy Spirit, then go ahead and give up that chocolate or volunteer your time at that soup kitchen. Jesus is king over all things, great and small.
Sometimes we focus too much on the giving things up rather than the taking things on during this season. I think if we focus more on the taking on or taking up things to go deeper in our walk with The Lord we will experience a new depth of dying and rising with Him.
In reference to the reference to Matthew 16:24 of losing ones self and following Jesus - Jesus was speaking to a group of people that were still under the old covenant. It says deny ones' self BUT we who have been baptized with Christ have thrown off the old self (Romans 6, Colossians 2, Ephesians 1, and 2 Corinthians 5) and are raised with Him! We have denied ourselves. I mean I guess if you are still living in sin then you should check out John 1:1 or Romans 6:1-3 because you are ignorant of what Christ has done.<br><br>Do happy men fast? No, not as long as they are with the Bride Groom. And it sounds like according to Paul that we who are in Christ are with Him.<br><br><br>Cheer up folks, we don't have to prove our sincerity. Jesus was sincere enough. <br><br>Check out John Crowder and the New Mystics for more Good News!
I'm giving up the idea that I can somehow be a better Christian than at the moment I was Baptized.
I'm curious what you mean Steve. I'd agree we can't get "more saved," but I do think we can strive in our faith to better model Jesus, no?
We definitely take fasting for granted. It allows us to depend on God's Word rather than our stomach.<br><br>I once read in a book by Richard Foster that if we want to find out what kind of person we are really like, we only need to fast and examine how we treat others when we're really hungry.
Giving up something for Lent is roughly like putting the pebble in your shoe: it makes you more cautious of your walk. The point of the church Year is not to mark Time or make Time, but to focus Time. <br><br>I put on ashes because I am not there yet; the ashes being a sort of inverse baptismal sign. They're my sign, not God's; visible rather than invisible; temporary instead of everlasting. <br><br>Lent reminds me that i live in time and as such am on a pilgrimage. Even more, that I am my own enemy, one who self-defeats all the time.
Our old self - the one Jesus told those people to deny - is cast off and we have been made altogether new because of Jesus' completed work. (2 Corinthians 5:17.) All sin is forgiven, not just the ones in the past but the ones to come, so there is no need for penance. (Colossians 2:13-14.)
Why do things to try to be more Christ-like. The Bible doesn't tell us that we are to live for Christ; it tells us that under the New Covenant it is Christ who lives in us. (Colossians 1:27, Romans 8:9.)
Giving something up for Lent puts the focus on ourselves and what we should do. The Bible says we should focus on Christ and what he has done for us.
Got something that is hindering you? (Hebrews 12:1.) Focus your eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2.)
Got a sin that entangles you? (Hebrews 12:1.) Focus your eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2.)
<i>"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."</i> (Hebrews 12:1-2.)
Paul is clear in Romans 7 and 8. Focusing on our sins and shortcomings makes it harder to be free of them. The writer of Hebrews also makes it clear: focusing on Jesus makes our sins and shortcomings fall away.
So as I said earlier. I'm not going to focus on what I can do for Jesus. I'm going to focus no what he has done for me.
P.S. For anyone who thinks this kind of talk leads to antinomianism or licentiousness, it doesn't. It leads to Romans 8 where Paul answered that charge quite handily.
This year I am not giving up anything, rather I am opening myself to receiving from God what He has to show me. I will be reading and meditating on scripture of His promises to us as believers and will be listening to what the Spirit source tells me and hopefully it will flow outward to others :)
I think that one thing people seem to be missing about giving up "trivial things" is the mnemonic function that self denial has. By that, I mean every time I start to reach for that chocolate bar or cup of coffee that I have given up for Lent, I am reminded, "No. I gave that up for Lent," and then it brings to mind what Lent is all about and the great sacrifice of Christ that we are commemorating through the Lenten season.
It isn't doing something to "be more holy" or "pay for sins" or anything like that. It's just a way to help focus my mind on Christ and his great gift to me a little more often between now and Easter.
I would certainly never try to tell anyone else that they have to observe Lent or that they are wrong if they don't find the Lenten observance meaningful, but I would certainly hope that they wouldn't try to tell me that my observance of Lent is trivial or useless, either.
I believe you should give up something that stands in the way of your relationship with God. If you read too many novels, put them away and read your bible more. Your body is a temple, therefore if you eat too many sweets give that up. Research proves that if you give something up or change something for 20 days it becomes habit forming. I think Lent makes you look at things (your life perhaps) differently. Wouldn't it be nice if we all drew closer to Christ.
You don't have to give something up, perhaps you may want to add something to you life.
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