A Beginner’s Guide to Observing Lent
Through the ages many Christ-followers have found observing Lent to be a time of deep restoration. Lent is the season of 40 days (minus Sundays) that extends from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday. Although its observance is not commanded in scripture, Christians throughout the ages have elected to participate in its observance in order to pray, reflect and reorder our lives as we prepare the celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
Observing Lent does not make you a better Christ-follower or raise your standing with God. It is simply a season to intentionally rest the flesh and draw near to God. The main purpose of Lent should be to draw close to Christ as the calendar draws close to Easter. I like to focus upon three primary postures during Lent: reflection, resistance, and renewal.
Reflection: Lent is a time for reflecting on the magnitude of the death and resurrection of Jesus on the behalf of those who would find salvation in Him. I was reading recently of someone who queried, why it was necessary for the crucifixion of Jesus to be so horrific. They asked, “Couldn’t God have found a less offensive way to redeem humanity?” The response to this question involves an understanding of the seriousness of our own sinfulness. A perfect God was executing justice and wrath for every sin of the redeemed in one sufficient act. To think that the crucifixion was “too much” means that we think “too little” of the magnitude of our sin and rebellion toward God.
Resistance: Lent is also a great time of resisting something in order to draw close to God. Some people may choose to fast from food during interval(s) of the season. Other may choose to abstain from something else. For example, it has been said that the average person spends two hours and 24 minutes per day on social media. Imagine how your life and attitude could change if you abstained from social media entirely (or perhaps limited it to 30 minutes a day) and that time was redirected toward something edifying like Bible reading, listening to something helpful while walking, praying, or even (get ready for this…) resting.
Renewal: The best part of Lent should be not what you “let go,” but what you “grab hold.” Use the intentional time of Lent to cultivate Spiritual Disciplines and practices.
I am going to encourage everyone at Hope Church to read Paul Tripp’s “Journey to the Cross” (https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Cross-40-Day-Lenten-Devotional/dp/1433567679) devotional with us. You may want to enroll in short term class, watch a series of videos (see www.bibleproject.com), or read through the New Testament.
Be encouraged as you are reflecting, resisting and renewing during this season along with others. You are standing on a centuries old tradition and are also participating with millions on this same journey today.