This month we move into the season of Lent. Lent is a season of spiritual preparation that leads to Holy Week and Easter. Lent is forty days and forty nights that recalls Jesus’s surrender and retreat into the desert. Whereas Easter rejoices in the resurrected Christ, Lent recalls the events leading up to his death at the hands of the Roman government.
I believe we need to take Lent seriously. Essentially, we cannot rightfully get to the joy of Easter without the self-sacrifice of Lent. As New Testament scholar N.T. Wright says, “Lent is a time for discipline, for confession, for honesty, not because God is mean or fault-finding, but because God wants us to know the joy of being cleaned out, ready for all the good things in store.”
I think we do ourselves and others a favor when we engage in the spiritual disciplines this time of year. Spiritual disciplines are regular actions undertaken to aid in our personal development and cleaning out process. Spiritual disciplines were important to Jesus. They should be important to us too!
Now spiritual disciplines are numerous in variety and scope. Common disciplines are prayer, fasting, worship, journaling, and service. In Mark 1:35 we read, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (NIV) Prayer was critical to Jesus. Also important were the other disciplines lifted up.
About these disciplines too, Jesus would say in Matthew 6:1, “Be careful not to do your acts of righteous to be seen by others. If you do, you will have no reward in heaven.” We are to do what we do in humility. We do not engage in the disciplines for show, but for our own benefit as disciples for Christ!
Might we take Lent seriously! This is an incredible journey that leads to the incredible joy of Easter! Many blessings to each of you, Scott