In the life of Christian discipleship, we are formed less by grand spiritual gestures—such as the occasional three-week silent starvation-fast retreat—and more by the small choices we make daily to embrace the contours of the Jesus-patterned life.
So maybe forsaking chocolate for forty days won’t change the world. It can, though, change me. It can change you. Each time we sacrifice in order to identify with Christ, or move in synch with Jesus into the world even though we feel entirely incompetent doing it, or when we embrace a holy practice for the sake of the kingdom, we are transformed a teeny bit more into his likeness.
I didn’t write anything yesterday…I have something brewing in my mind, but it has not come together yet, so I’m waiting. In the meantime, I found some more gems of articles about Lent. It is somewhat staggering how many articles are out there. The nuber of us writing about our journeys. The number of people writing, period…that is rather staggering.
The quotation above is from Margot Starbuck and the rest of her article is worth reading. I like the little bit above though. I know that it sounds silly to friends who are not Christians that we are giving up FaceBook or chocolate or soda for Lent. Maybe it is a little bit silly. Especially when we look at what Lent is about…what we are to be contemplating during these forty days.
Jesus being taken into the desert to be tempted.
Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. (Luke 4:1 from The Message)
He was full of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t give up soda. He didn’t give up chocolate. He didn’t give up luxuries or frivolity. He did not play at this.
He was led by the same Spirit that filled Him into the wild. To face temptations and to be tested. This was not a game. This time in the desert that the Church has through the years come to think on in this time leading up to Holy Week, this spiritual sobriety, leads us to be prepared to remember Good Friday. We are preparing our hearts, not playing at fasting.
I have to be honest, looking full-on at Jesus as He is tempted and ultimately as He comes to the Cross, is difficult. It is easier to think about how spiritual it is to give up Facebook or chocolate. It is humbling to think on all of this because it involves me.
We’ve all thought about Jesus thinking of us on the Cross. We’ve been encouraged to do so. It’s true, though. That’s what we believe. He knew.
He knew me. He knows me.
This is not frivolous. Even if it is simple and we giggle some, maybe we are able to take offer this simple act of sacrifice so that we can encounter the Living God. It can be slightly frightening. Encountering the Living God.
We have more time. Lent is still settling into our souls. The simple things we have set in place to train ourselves to think on Him…they are settling in. Maybe we’ve faltered a little and wondered if it was silly to attempt this. It’s not. It’s serious business…contemplating the temptations of Jesus and the journey to the Cross (ahhh…..but, Easter.).
Whatever it is that you felt led to give up…stick with it, even if it is little or seems silly. Has it made you think more about Jesus? Has it caused you to pause. Have you filled the absence with a space for the Spirit to lead you? There’s still time….preparing our hearts for Holy Week. Making space this season to encounter the Living God.