2/26/2014

Lenten Perspective

Next week begins the Lenten season. The Church has long remembered the 40 days before the Son of God's supreme sacrifice for us by observing some form of self-denial during this period. Many give up meat or desserts. Some give up TV shows, social media, maybe Farmville, or attend special church services. None of this is bad or wrong. But in the end we have every intention of picking up where we left off. We won't give up sweets forever and how would that really change our lives spiritually?

I've participated in giving up something for Lent on occasion. My church tradition doesn't really make a great deal of Lent. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing I have the self-discipline to get through 40 days without touching a cookie or a piece of candy. The act doesn't change me. That first bite of dessert after its absence is heavenly. In fact, I can hardly wait. The question I have to ask myself is how has that made me more like Christ? Plainly it hasn't. So what's the point? And why do we continue to perform these small exercises that seem like they should do something to kindle more spirituality?

Paul tells us in Romans 11:1-2: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There is a theory that a new habit takes 21 days to make. Habits are ingrained in our minds and they're very hard to change once established. Try breaking one--like eating dessert. After some thought, it seems to me that if we took spiritual transformation seriously, the Lenten season could be the time we focus on renewing our minds and hearts by making new habits. We have 40 days; surely enough time to develop a new habit, a new way of thinking and behaving that doesn't stop after Easter.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 

The fruit of the Spirit as outlined Galatians 5:22-24 may be an excellent place to start. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

A transformed mind and actions. A transformed life that shines brightly to lead others to the cross.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16(a)

No comments:

Positively encouraging

2/26/2014

Lenten Perspective

Next week begins the Lenten season. The Church has long remembered the 40 days before the Son of God's supreme sacrifice for us by observing some form of self-denial during this period. Many give up meat or desserts. Some give up TV shows, social media, maybe Farmville, or attend special church services. None of this is bad or wrong. But in the end we have every intention of picking up where we left off. We won't give up sweets forever and how would that really change our lives spiritually?

I've participated in giving up something for Lent on occasion. My church tradition doesn't really make a great deal of Lent. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing I have the self-discipline to get through 40 days without touching a cookie or a piece of candy. The act doesn't change me. That first bite of dessert after its absence is heavenly. In fact, I can hardly wait. The question I have to ask myself is how has that made me more like Christ? Plainly it hasn't. So what's the point? And why do we continue to perform these small exercises that seem like they should do something to kindle more spirituality?

Paul tells us in Romans 11:1-2: Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

There is a theory that a new habit takes 21 days to make. Habits are ingrained in our minds and they're very hard to change once established. Try breaking one--like eating dessert. After some thought, it seems to me that if we took spiritual transformation seriously, the Lenten season could be the time we focus on renewing our minds and hearts by making new habits. We have 40 days; surely enough time to develop a new habit, a new way of thinking and behaving that doesn't stop after Easter.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 

The fruit of the Spirit as outlined Galatians 5:22-24 may be an excellent place to start. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

A transformed mind and actions. A transformed life that shines brightly to lead others to the cross.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16(a)

No comments: