It's that time of year, in preparation for Easter, many churches observe a season called "Lent". This time of self-denial, study, and prayer is meant to bring one closer to God to better understand the true meaning of His sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on the cross for our sins. Lent lasts for 40 days (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, not including Sundays).
Typically, we decide what we will 'give up' for Lent. Will we log out of social media, stay away from desserts or fast food? Perhaps we will deny ourselves a favorite tv show to spend more time in prayer or Biblical study. Although there is nothing wrong with these types of self-denial, giving stuff up for Lent is, by its very nature, temporary. When Easter is over, we go back to scrolling through our news feeds, eating our chocolate cakes, and hitting the drive-through on the way to work. The 40 day Lenten devotional now complete, we pull up our Netflix and binge that series we had 'given up' for several weeks.
In the end, nothing has changed. Another Easter has come and gone, another celebration had, and we are back to the status quo.
But what if we stopped giving up things 'for Lent'? What if, instead, we gave up something "because of" Lent? As we think about the lasting impact Jesus had on the people of his time and on the world, including us, we realize that people did not change for Jesus, they changed because of Him. This change was not temporary, but permanent, life-altering change. The woman at the well, the man whose friends lowered him down through the ceiling, the bleeding woman, Lazarus from the grave--all changed because of Jesus and what He had done.
We have the opportunity, during the Lenten season, to come close to Jesus through God's Word, through prayer, through contemplation. And when we do, in gaining the understanding of what He has done for us, we can be free to change something because of Him. As the song says, "Because He lives, we can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone." Because He Lives, we can give up the things that are holding us back from making the impact we are called to make as Christ-followers in this world. Not a fading impact of a temporary change, but one that doesn't fade away after a season but makes an impact on our lives and the lives of those around us.
So don't give up something for Lent, give up something because of Lent & what you experience as you come close to Christ during this season.
What are you giving up? Share it with us on Facebook and Instagram @sumcjax and use the hashtag #BecauseOfLent