As I mentioned yesterday in my post about Ash Wednesday, I didn’t grow up in a liturgical environment. Traditions likes Ash Wednesday and Lent were foreign to my good Baptist upbringing and me. In recent years I have learned more about liturgical styles of worship.
I’ve learned more about different liturgical seasons like Lent. Before I thought Lent was a time to give up chocolate and eat Filet-O-Fish sandwiches at McDonald’s. My exposure to Lent was limited to people giving up random things, like trying to break an addiction to caffeine or reality television. Thankfully, others less ignorant than myself have expanded my view and shown me what Lent is really all about.
Lent is the season of the liturgical calendar that leads up to Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for the next six weeks. Even as early as the first century Christians have used this period of about 40 days to model Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness. Since Jesus gave up food for 40 days then we as Christians should be willing to abstain from something for 40 days.
But does what we give up for Lent really matter?
Lent isn’t just about giving something up. Lent is about what we can add to our lives. We take something out of our lives so that we can add something in. We take out something that is impeding our lives with Christ and add something that will strengthen our lives with Christ.
Lent isn’t a diet or practice in self-control. Lent is a season of contemplation during which we focus on Christ. If something is distracting our focus from Christ then we choose to remove it. Once it has been removed, we add something that will help us better focus on Christ in the weeks leading up to Easter.
So we need to think about what we choose to give up for Lent.
We’re not just giving up Starbucks to save $5 a day.
We’re not just giving up cheeseburgers to cut back on calories.
We’re not just giving up social media to tell people that we’re giving up on social media.
Giving something up should create space in our lives for more Jesus. We’re not just creating space, but we’re trying to fill that space with something life-giving that will draw us closer to Jesus.
I gave up sleeping past 7:00 in the morning for Lent. I want to have more time with God in the morning and I also want to be a better steward of my time. Sleeping until 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning was getting in the way of those goals. Waking up at 7:00 creates space in my life and I intend to fill that space with more Jesus and more productivity.
What we give up for Lent isn’t nearly as important as what we’re going to add. If you choose to give something up, be sure that its absence will create a space in your life that Jesus can occupy. Once you’ve created the space, invite Jesus in, show him around and let him know you’re ready for him to get down to work.
And drink some Starbucks and eat some chocolate while doing it.
What are you giving up for Lent? What are you adding for Lent?