Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Season of Sacrifice

In considering the season of Lent and doing a little bit of research, I have found it interesting to discover how many people believe that Lent does not apply to them; that it is purely a Catholic practice. Interested and intrigued, but not surprised. You see, in all my years as a Jesus follower I have attended some form of protestant evangelical church, and as far back as I can remember I have heard the word "Lent" during the Sunday sermon on the week just before Ash Wednesday. I must confess that I, too, believed that portion of the sermon as not applicable to me and my life.

I have begun to realize, though, that Lent is more of a mindset than a tradition.

Many people up give something for Lent, but it seems that they often choose something a little bit self-serving. For example, I cannot count the number of times I've heard people say, "I need to lose some weight anyway, so I'm giving up chocolate/sugar/soda pop/etc. for Lent."

The mindset of Lent does not look for self-serving, but rather for self-sacrificing.

On a tragic day in history, roughly 2000 years ago, the ultimate sacrifice was given. Jesus Christ, Son of the One True God, allowed Himself to be brutally beaten and murdered. He hung from a cross - the God-man who was perfect and flawless - and took the punishment for our wickedness, sinfulness, selfishness, pride, arrogance, hatred, greed, and cruelty. Praise be to God that Christ's death was only temporary (which is why we celebrate Easter) and He was raised from the dead.

As we come into the season of preparation for the ultimate sacrifice, should we not be preparing our hearts? What better way to prepare our hearts to receive the gift of Christ's death and resurrection than to sacrifice something in His honour?

Lent, as a mindset, asks the question, "Lord, what can I give up that will better help me to understand what You gave up?" It asks, "What is in my life that keeps getting in the way of me being like Christ?" It asks, "Who can I give to, out of love and obedience to my God, as an act of remembrance for what He gave for me?"

What we give up for Lent should not serve the purpose of "killing two birds with one stone." We should not look for "side benefit" results. Rather, what we give should inconvenience us. It should make us uncomfortable. Maybe it should even hurt a little bit. After all, while Christ hung dying for our sins, I do not imagine that it was convenient, comfortable, nor painless.

The result or side benefit we should seek after is to be sanctified (made more like Him, and less like the world). The mindset of Lent is all about the heart.


  1. I too was brought up Protestant and thought of Lent as a Catholic ritual.

    Thank you for this post. . . eye opening.

  2. Wow - what a great eye opener!

    I did give up something for Lent this year - iced tea out. It was chosen because it is something I enjoy, but don't need. I feel the loss of my "treat" more often then I'd like to admit. But, it is in denying that little piece of flesh that reminds me of what more was denied so that I can live.

    Love your thoughts on this. Hmmmm...lots to consider.

    We always "add in" a practice too, that hopefully can remain - this year it is reading a chapter of proverbs at breakfast in the AM. Soemthing that draws us to Him and focuses our day.


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