Modern Christians have a difficult time fitting Lent into our lives. We want our religion to be upbeat and we find traditional Lenten observances to be dreary and depressing. Forty days of fasting, penitence, and prayer is just too much for a generation schooled in the ways of quick and instant results. We see destination and goals, but we forget the value of the journey.
In the early church, Lent was a time of teaching. People who wanted to become Christian would study three hours a day for seven weeks to learn the fundamentals of our faith. Lent became synonymous with Christ’s call to repentance.
When Jesus said, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” He summoned us to more than just a change of heart, a sense of remorse, or a resolve to be a better person. He called for a fundamental change in the direction of our lives. He called upon us to turn from a life that is self-focused and self-involved to a life that is Christ-focused and spirit-empowered.
The weeks of Lent are not intended to make us feel guilty or to beat down our self-esteem. They are designed to give us the time to turn and keep on turning from a life that offers little hope and scant comfort to a fellowship with God focused on Christ.
Lent is not an escape from the “Real World”. It is rather an opportunity for us to evaluate the way in which our Christian values impact our lives. As Christians, we need to see the relevance of our faith to life. We often hear the phrase: “That will never work in the real world.” But the real world we live in is often filled with shifting values and illusion. Our faith may be the only constant in our lives.
Instant religion, like instant coffee is weak and unsatisfying. This Lent, take the time to see what God has been brewing for you.