5 Reasons Not To Give Up Something for Lent
In the not-trying-to-bash-legalists-but-kinda category, this from ThinkChristian. Here’s the first three reasons not to give up something for Lent. Please visit ThinkChristian for reasons number 4 and 5.
BTW, although this is great humor as well, salvation is serious business. I pray some seeds are planted here.
Posted March 5th @ 7:00 am by Nathan
For Lent, I’m giving up the idea of giving up something for Lent. There are some good reasons to do it, but I can think of a few reasons not to.
1. It’s Not the Self-Denial Olympics
If the point of giving up something for Lent is nothing more than self-congratulation for feats of abstinence, I’m not interested. Fasting, in centuries of monastic practice, is only worthwhile as far as it increases your spiritual focus, your meditation, your awareness of utter dependence on God. In our diet-happy culture, simply avoiding something is itself an accomplishment, a triumph of willpower and demonstration of self-control that ironically gives you a higher, not a lower, view of yourself. “The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself,” said C.S. Lewis in his timeless sermon “The Weight of Glory.”
“We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ,” Lewis continued. Which brings me to #2.
2. Chocolate Ain’t a Cross
I have friends giving up chocolate, or alcohol, or TV, or ice cream, for Lent. I admire their sacrifices. But, those are still pretty trivial sacrifices. I’d be more impressed if people gave up not a minor indulgence, but a supposed non-negotiable of modern life. Driving. E-mail. Mirrors. Consumer goods produced more than 100 miles from your house.
That would impress me. But I still don’t think it would impress God. “Take up your cross and follow me.” It’s a call to complete self-emptying.
3. We’re Not Trying To Beat Christ at His Own Game
Sometimes, I wonder if giving up something for Lent comes out of a twinge of guilt about Jesus’ suffering— “Jesus went through so much pain for me, the least I can do in return is keep my hand out of the cookie jar for a month.” First, Christ endured hell precisely so that we don’t have to (not that a lack of cookies is hell; see #2 above). He emptied himself in order to invite us to a life of abundance. Not self-indulgence. Not indifference. Not hoarding. But abundance. A life of fasting and feasting.