I had the privilege of reconnecting with a friend from college recently. God is still using my girl Cut Short to touch my life and grow closer to Him; Mom2ECR is pictured between me and Cut Short, who is on the far left.
After posting the above picture, I was inspired to see what was up with Mom2ECR. After catching up a bit, I shared my blog with her and was pleasantly surprised to learn she is keeping a blog herself. Something she wrote really resonated with me:
Therefore, for Lent, I have decided to focus on the pursuit of something rather than the giving up something. Not that I will not be giving things up, but rather that I will keep the purpose of why I am fasting in mind.
You should totes check out her blog to find out what precedes “therefore.”
Lent is funny. Religion, generally speaking, is funny. I have often said that everyone is religious in his or her own way; the only difference in how or what we choose to worship. It is very easy to go through any tradition somewhat mindlessly, and religion is fraught with opportunities for ignorance. Some people dismiss religion for this reason, but I believe that the bad things about it are often systemic because people suck, not because religion does.
I say this to say that in my experience, the idea of giving up something for Lent can be very superficial. “I give up Coke!” Okay, maybe you don’t have Coke for 40 days. Your pancreas is grateful, I’m sure. But then what? The day after Easter you go back to life as it was? I don’t say that to minimize the effort that it took to fast from something for that time, especially if it was difficult. I don’t believe it’s my place to judge any fellow Christian for what, if, or how they choose to give up something, but what is the real point of doing so in the first place? If you are giving up something that is bad for you, shouldn’t logic dictate you probably shouldn’t be doing it the other 325 days of the year?
That’s just it, though. We do suck at both doing things that are bad for us OR not doing things that are good for us. Like the Apostle Paul writes here:
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:19 NIV)
I think this catches everything, from how we treat our neighbor to what we choose to put in our body. We don’t just get to give up the Coke if we want to fast successfully. There must be something in place with which to replace it. Does Diet Coke count? Well, only the person fasting knows if that’s moving them toward Christ or not. I do know that nature abhors a vacuum. It is pretty difficult, if not impossible, to give up something without replacing it with something else. If I say that I’m going to give up being a jerk to my neighbor, I need to figure out how I’m going to treat my neighbor better. I can say with great confidence that the God I serve would not be pleased if I settled for indifference toward my neighbor as opposed to active malice.
Paul writes earlier in his epistle to the Romans that all have fallen short of God’s glory. I fall short every day. It is impossible for me to lament on the state of humanity without first lamenting on my own state. Then I have to be careful not to be proud of my humility! This Christian walk business is no joke. I am thankful that my sanctification is a process and that Christ chose to die for me despite knowing what I am capable of. The Holy Spirit is working in me to remove my suck, but not without replacing it with the contrasting good quality.
He’s pretty busy.