Today marks the beginning of Lent.
Christians throughout the world observe Lent. Catholic, Orthodox, and many Protestants all have traditions and practices to observe Lent.
I know Lent may seem odd to non-believers.
What is Lent?
Simply put, Lent is a 40 day period in anticipation of Easter when Christians voluntarily make sacrifices and strive to live simply so that our lives better reflect Jesus.
It’s an opportunity for Christians to grow in their relationship with God and deepen our commitment to Him. Jesus is our guide and we are simply imitating His teachings and practices.
I haven’t always participated in Lent.
I have a marginal Catholic background. When I was a kid Lent seemed all about ashes and fasting and avoiding sweets. I am not knocking my Catholic heritage. I am just saying I missed the point of the season. I missed the spirit of Lent.
For many years as an atheist/agnostic I didn’t want anything to do with Lent.
But since my conversion, I look forward to this season.
What I do during Lent
During Lent, I will sacrifice and simplify so that my life better reflects and aligns with the life ofJesus. You see, I am making a real commitment to following Jesus and know that millions of my brothers and sisters all over the world are doing the same gives me a sense of solidarity and fellowship.
For me, Lent is all about renewal, refreshing and refocusing. It’s an opportunity to hit the pause button and reconsider how I am living my life, who I am living my life for, and how my priorities align with the life and teaching of Jesus.
There is no one ‘right way’ to do Lent. But there are practices that help draw me closer to God. I will NOT do them to ‘earn favor with God.’ I aim to practice these disciplines to ensure I am, what Dallas Willard says, enjoying:
Full participation in the life of God’s Kingdom and in the vivid companionship of Christ comes to us only through appropriate exercise in the disciplines for life in the Spirit. (The Spirit of the Disciplines, )
Discipline is not a bad word. Through solitude, fasting, prayer and service (among others) I can draw closer to the ‘vivid companionship’ with Christ that Willard describes.
Questions to grow deeper with God
In addition to my disciplines, I will ask questions about my relationship with God in the hope that they will help focus me once again on Him. I’ll journal and meditate over these questions during the 40 days trusting they will help me renew.
I share them with you in hopes they might also draw you closer to God.
- Are the priorities of my life focused on Jesus?
- Am I resting in Jesus?
- Am I willing to live simply and sacrificially as Jesus lived? If not, why?
- Have I repented of sin and idols that hold me back from a thriving relationship with God?
- Do I love God with all my mind, heart, soul and strength? If not, what’s holding me back?
- Who is God calling me to serve? What am I going to do about it?
- Am I celebrating God?
- Am I connecting with others in meaningful ways?
- Am I advocating for peace and justice?
- Am I aware of the widows, orphans and aliens in my community?
- Am I being generous towards the Jesus mission with my time and talents?
- Where is pride holding me back?
- What is God calling me to give away?
- What will it look like for me to open my otherwise clenched fists to God so he can bless me?
- How is God calling me to participate more fully in His mission and in His church?
Lent will end with Good Friday and then the celebrations of celebrations: the resurrection of Jesus – Easter.
Every year I emerge from Lent refreshed, renewed and refocused. I can’t imagine my life without it.
So I invite you to join me this Lenten season in discipline and reflection. I know God will draw closer to you as you do.
Ready for this journey? Then get involved with a local church. If you’re looking for a church to attend during this season, I invite you to join us at Community or any of our NewThing churches around the world.