On Being Christian

give it up for lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the spiritual season leading to Easter known as Lent. Traditionally, many believers fast, or “give up” something for Lent – such as watching television – as an act of discipline in surrender to God. This year, some are “fasting” from FaceBook, or Twitter, or blogging. It’s all a matter of your spiritual intent and focus.

There are three “acts” associated with Lent: fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Mark Daniels had a great post about the history and meaning of Lent. The congregation he pastors took up the act of almsgiving, demonstrated in the 21st Century by serving in their community. Giving up ourselves, our time and our resources for others may be the best demonstration of surrender we could practice.

There are a couple things I wish the Blogdom of God would give up. The first is the “I’m right/you’re wrong” attitude with which we (oh all right, I) sometimes write. I mean, intelligent, Jesus-loving, Bible-believing people can actually have thoughtful yet differing interpretations of the Bible, and have different positions on social issues. Really! While we may passionately disagree with someone, I wish we could give up labeling them as wrong, or presuming to judge their spiritual commitment because they take a different position than we do on a given topic. That’s just plain wrong. Wait…what I meant to say is…I would disagree with someone who took that position, though I understand, for example, loving the Bible and wanting to defend it diligently. (darn. This is going to be harder than I thought.)

The other thing I’d like to give up is all the language of “battle” and being at “war.” I am not at war with my neighbor and do not need to “arm” myself to talk with them. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, after all. Besides, having them over for coffee is much nicer and potentially more productive. I’m also not at war with Hollywood, or the media, because Hollywood and the media are made up of regular people, looking for love and purpose and meaning in their lives, but who are deceived. It would be like waging battle against someone simply because they speak a different language. We need to find a way to have positive conversations with our “enemies.”

Because the thing is, when believers get in these sorts of arguments with each other, we just look silly – not salty – to those who don’t yet know the truth. And as Dan Edelen of Cerulean Sanctum said, in a notable quote: “…when the Church looks silly, the world just goes to hell faster.”

(originally posted 2006, updated)

4 thoughts on “give it up for lent

  1. “It would be like waging battle against someone simply because they speak a different language.” It’s sad that we are silly enough to let that happen way too often.

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  2. although i grew up in a highly spiritual pastor’s home, we never practiced lent; my family was fairly anti-catholic and balked at the idea. (i know… it’s a conflict to be a follower of christ, but look down on other followers… hmmm…i suppose we can all learn from that.)

    as an adult, i’ve learned to love anything that draws me further away from myself and closer to God. as such, i’m fairly new to lent – but this year, i’m definitely embracing the opportunity to see God in a new light.

    thanks for adding to my blogolife.

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