We are a few days into the celebration of Lent, and already people are complaining. It makes me wonder if they are participating in lent for the right reasons, and if they really understand why Lent is important. Most people I know, view Lent as a second chance—a do-over—on New Year’s Resolutions, but if you think Lent is about healthy eating or exercise you are missing the point. Here are 5 reasons Lent matters.
1. It Breaks Up The Rhythm of Your Day. How often do you think about the sacrifice of Christ throughout your normal day? 2 times? 3 times? If I’m honest, I don’t think about the death and resurrection of Jesus very much. Lent has a waking up effect. It breaks us out of the normal rhythm of our day, and reminds us of what Christ did for us on the cross. I don’t know about you, but with all of the distractions in my life I could use a little help thinking about Christ.
2. It Creates Gratitude. We live in a culture of “with.” We not only have everything we need, we have way more than we could ever use. We live in a culture of excess, and it affects our view of life. Going without in a culture of with is powerful. It reminds us that God has blessed us, and continues to provide for our needs. It makes us thankful.
3. It Helps Us Prepare for Easter. I used to think of lent as a time of “anticipation,” but my pastor corrected me. Lent is much more than that. Lent is a time of preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It’s a time for us to focus more attention on what it means that Christ came, that He died, and that He rose again. Have you spent some time meditating about what it means that Jesus died for your sins?
4. It Reminds Us of the State of the World. We live in a world of pain and suffering. A world that has fallen so far from the beauty, peace, and rest of Eden. Sometimes, in our Western Culture, we get so comfortable that we forget this world is broken. Lent helps to line up our lives with the reality that until Christ comes back, all of us are affected by pain, death, and suffering.
5. It Unifies Us With The Body of Christ. Western Culture is a culture that elevates the individual. Even in the western church we promote a “personal walk” with the Lord. Sometimes we take this so far, that we forget that Christianity has always been marked by community—community with God, with each other, within the world. We are not meant to live lonely lives, we are meant to live lives in community. Lent connects us with believers all over the world.
I don’t know if you participate in Lent or not, but it’s not too late to start. You can jump in right now. The first step is to pray and ask God how he would have you prepare for Easter weekend. Would he have you give up something? It could be that you give up a certain amount of time each day to read through the Gospels and pray. Or maybe there is an idol in your life that God wants to break from your grip—you could give that up, with God’s help. Regardless of what it is, the purpose of lent is not to eat healthy and exercise as if we’re attempting to keep a New Year’s Resolution. The point of lent is preparing your heart and life for the celebration of what Christ has done for us on the Cross, and through the Resurrection.