Lent; A Tradition Worth Giving Up!

YOUNG WOMAN RECEIVES MARK OF ASHESTraditional Lent started centuries ago when man thought that he had to prepare himself for the death and resurrection commemoration of Jesus Christ. It’s as if he had to prepare his own body for death.

Today Lent is part of many “high church” holy days respected as a religious tradition. It’s a tradition because it is not a ritual nor a sacrament found in scriptures. Many people view it as a self denial gratification process that makes them feel better about themselves. People give up various things in their lives during this season as if it gets them in a better position with God.

Now here is where information is so vital to those who want to give up something. Let me explain.

The purpose of Jesus Christ was to fulfill a legal requirement that God demanded when man fell from Grace. Jesus was the only one who could take mankind’s place in death and satisfy this penalty. He gave up everything for mankind; glory, power and honor. The scriptures say that Jesus became poor for our sakes that we might become rich.

When someone gives up something for us, we don’t have to give it up again. That’s redundancy.

While giving up something for Lent might seem worthy, righteous, noble or religious, it really is only good for the individual; nothing else. I’m not being sacrilegious here or disrespectful to those who observe it, but it doesn’t gain you any “brownie points” with God at all. It’s all tradition based on man’s self sacrificing attitude that somehow this might make him look good in God’s eyes. That’s all.

Now what you might like to do is observe a 40 day season of communion. This is where you, during the traditional Lent season, take personal communion everyday either alone or with family or friends, remembering what Jesus did for you on the cross and celebrate what has been given to you as a result of His death, burial and resurrection.

What He gave up for us, we receive in blessings of salvation, healing and eternal life. We don’t have to give up chocolate (one of my weaknesses) soft drinks, pork (I love sausage biscuits) or anything else for that matter. He didn’t demand us to give up anything, except to follow Him.

So instead of giving up anything for Lent, just give up Lent. You’ll feel better as you celebrate the goodness of God and still enjoy that which you have, maybe by tradition, given up something you really didn’t want to in the first place.

Now let’s all meet at Hardees for breakfast followed up with a trip to Godiva.

That’s what I think about it.

DTW – http://www.exaltationchurch.com

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8 responses to “Lent; A Tradition Worth Giving Up!

  1. You had me at Hardees!

  2. Lent? I think I pulled some of that out of the dryer, or was that my bellybutton? Anyway, I threw it out.

    You know if you add something to it, instead of giving up something, like say, adding an “L” to it, you get something you can make soup out of, or was that a Barbara Streisand movie? Either way, I Lent some tools to my neighbor and didn’t get them back, so I guess I already gave something up for Lent.

  3. “The purpose of Jesus Christ was to fulfill a legal requirement that God demanded when man fell from Grace. Jesus was the only one who could take mankind’s place in death and satisfy this penalty.”

    Let me ask you something: you believe that Jesus Christ -is- God, correct? After all, the traditional and ancient belief is that God is a trinity; the Eternal Father, the Pre-Existant Son, and the Life-Giving Holy Spirit. If you believe this then what did God fulfill a legal requirement with Himself? Why did God have to be reconciled to us? Afterall, that’s what the belief that Christ had to fulfill some requirement entails, that God was mad at us and -we- had to make God change -His- mind and like us again.

    The Western churches, under the influence of Roman Catholic doctrine (and this largely influenced by Augustine and his conception of Original Sin) practice a very ‘legal’ Christianity; there are laws that must be followed, and when broken we either repent or get punished. The older Eastern understanding of Christianity is different though.

    We believe that after Adam and Eve commit the original sin, the sin itself doesn’t get passed on to us like some kind of genetic anomoly. Instead, what the rest of humanity got passed down was the effects of sin: subjugation to the passions and material corruption (i.e. againg and death). By going against the will of God a cruicial link was broken between us and Him so that we are not able to live up to our full purpose as creations of God and keep our will aligned with His.

    So, God sent the Uncreated Word to become incarnate in material, human flesh. By becoming incarnate and in a sense marrying His divinity to His creation, he resanctified the flesh and made it possible for us to once again find a way to align our will with the will of God. By being crucified and dying, upon entering the the land of the dead (Hades, Gehenna… not hell, but where all dead souls went before Christ opened the gates of Heaven) and, being God, death could not contain He Who Is Uncontainable. Christ destroyed the power that death has over us, and to prove it he rose from the dead. Now, when we die, our souls don’t go to some empty land of the dead, but they have the chance to spend eternity before the very throne of the King of the Universe.

    Now, what this has to do with Lent: Lent is a period of reflection and purification. It’s not just about “what am I going to give up, what am I going to sacrifice,” it is about divorcing ourselves from the love of our own egoistic wills and showing God that we are ready and willing to follow His will. Is it about purging the passionate attachments we have to ourselves and material things so that we can focus on what really matters: worshiping and glorifying the King of All. But it’s not just about this either! Because afterwards is Easter, known in the East as Pascha. In the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, Easter is the most important day of the entire year. It is the day when Christ rose from the dead, thus completing his work on making it possible for us to once again reach the state we lived in before the Fall, and then to grow in that way even close to God than Adam and Eve were able to before the Fall. Easter is our great hope! It is the symbol that God has resanctified us, his Creation. That he has seen all of our misgivings, faults, and sins and has overlooked them all. It is a day celebrating our victory of the demons who draw us to sin, and death which was the everlasting seperation of all of God’s creation from Him. It is the day when we can know for certain that we have the chance to live in the presense of God for all of eternity.

    This is why we practice lenten ascetic acts: to purify ourselves, to show God that we are striving to live how H wants us to live, to set aside at least 40 days of the year with the specific intention of devoting your life to God.

    If this is a bad thing–struggling to live a holy life and trying, even though we know we will never be able to be so, to prove ourselves worthy of this ultimate ‘second chance’ that God has given to us…. if this is a bad thing, then sure, let’s get rid of it.

  4. …we don’t have to purify ourselves by giving things up. Actually, that is impossible. That’s why Jesus’ sacrifice was necessary. Jesus’ blood did that purifying for us because we couldn’t. And since the Bible says that our righteousness is as filthy rags to God, the pressures off! On your best day, you’d stink to God without Jesus. We live holy because holy living provides the best of all possibilities for us – a life free from everything that sin has tainted. Life’s best provision is found in holy living. It doesn’t prove ourselves worthy. We will never be worthy of the precious blood of Jesus or of the powerful love of the Father. We have already been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We are to be holy not in order to earn but to behave like our Father. And if seasons of our denial were necessary to God, we’d find that in red throughout the Gospels. Man created seasons of denial, not God. Remember: MAN created Lent, not God. Go with God’s plan; there’s enough there to keep one busy. But do all for His glory and so you can have and be all that He says you can have and be. Oh – and there is no “struggling to live a holy life.” Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Go with Jesus, not with Man. Enjoy Lent by just loving on God. He gets that. And the beauty of it is, it’s reciprocal.

  5. If I’m devoting my life to God, why just set aside 40 days? I can’t be luke warm. Also, if there is something that is hindering my relationship with God, and I feel I need to give it up for Lent, I may need to consider giving it up everyday of the year not just 40 days. I strive to live the way He wants me to live everyday – otherwise what’s the point? He doesn’t just want me devoted on Christmas and Easter holidays. He wants me everyday. Lastly, we didn’t have to change God’s mind. We can’t change God’s mind. He knew the plan and Jesus fulfilled it because God loved us so much.

  6. @DTW: No, of course we’ll never prove ourselves worthy, but that’s what I said in my post, that even though we know we never will, we should try. Just because you might have once said “Jesus I believe in you and thank you for dying for me” doesn’t mean that you can now just sit back and cruise through life doing whatever you want. Salvation isn’t promised just by saying one prayer, it takes work. Christ might have said that his yoke was easy and his burden light, but he also told us to take up our crosses and follow him, he told us that many are called but few are chosen, and he told us that the way to heaven was a narrow path, while the way of the world was wide and easy.

    On another note, can you point out to me where in the bible it says it says “Unless something is in the bible, it is not true.” What do you think that the Christians did for the first 300 years of the religion? There was no Bible until 300 years after Christ’s death! There was the Old Testament (of course it wasn’t called that) and there were hundereds of different gospels and letters circulating around. It was MAN who created the canon of the Bible. The Bible is a PART of the capital-T Tradition of the Church.

    @Me: Lent isn’t supposed to be the ONLY time that you do dedicate yourself to God. Lent is just a time of more intense ascesis in preperation for Easter. In fact, if it were not for the holy day of Easter (or Pascha as the Eastern Church calls it) then there would be no reason for Lent.

  7. Wait, I’m confused. So does this mean I shouldn’t have thrown away what came out of my bellybutton?

    I don’t know about you, but, I’m pretty sure He told us to give our lives to Him wholly, not just a 40 day spike in the year. But, on the other hand, there is definitely nothing wrong with more intense ascesis in preperation for Easter.

    Where does the bunny come into play in all this? Maybe he rolled away the stone. What a crazy egg-laying rodent, you know? I bet you can get a lot of Lent off that furball.

  8. I think what some people responding to this post are missing is the fact that the reason we aren’t concentrating on lent and works is because we should have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We don’t just say Jesus is Lord one day and then skate through life until the end, because if we really accept Him as Lord then we’ll work at the relationship we have with Him. It would be impossible to truly know Jesus Christ and just do whatever our flesh wanted to do just because we could. Our minds are at enmity with God, so we have to work to do the right things, because our nature is from our Earthly father the Devil. Therefore, if we want to stay under the care and protection of the Father, we have to strive to live according to His will. Who would want to profess that they knew Jesus and then live in a way that was contrary to His Will and forfeit all that comes with His covenant? A foolish person would do that. I don’t appreciate it when someone (and you know who you are) says that we (Christians) think we can get off easy because we confess Jesus is Lord and just do our own thing and still make it to Heaven. That is preposterous and psychotic. Imagine having that kind of relationship with a spouse. You get married and tell your husband/wife you love him/her on your wedding day and then sleep with everyone in town and lie and abuse them just because you are married to them. That is ignorant just as thinking that saying Jesus is Lord gets you a free pass. You have to cultivate that relationship in order to reap the benefits, but even if you don’t you are still married to that person. When you confess that Jesus is Lord you are a child of God no matter how many works you do. Some people don’t want to believe that, but that is from the inspired Word of God (written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit). If you truly love Jesus you would do his Will and probably wouldn’t argue about whether you should give something up for 40 days or for life. If you want to do that then do it…no big deal. You probably should be going without it anyway if it means that much to you.

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