I currently worship at a church that does not formally recognize Lent or the beginning of Lent which is Ash Wednesday.
Is it wrong or biblically incorrect to celebrate or participate in these? Or wrong not to?
My understanding of the Lenten season is that it is a time for:
- Abstaining from sinful activities
- Denying one’s self from what might be deemed pleasurable and unhealthy
- Breaking of bad habits
All of this to prepare our hearts and most closely align our lives with the celebration of our living King, Jesus the Christ, risen on the day we celebrate as Easter.
By the way, neither Lent or Ash Wednesday is mentioned explicitly in scripture.
However, many of the underlying principles are outlined in the bible:
- The use of or covering with ashes (representing mourning): Esther 4:1, Job 2:8, Exodus 9:8-10, Luke 10:13
- Denying pleasure: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, Galatians 5:19-21, Luke 8:14, 1 Corinthians 10:7, Romans 12:1
- Self-sacrifice: Luke 9:24, Ruth 2:11, Matthew 19:21, Acts 2:44-45, Philippians 2:5-8
- Breaking of bad habits: 1 Corinthians 10:13, Ephesians 4:22-24, 1 John 2:15-17, Proverbs 28:13, Luke 14:26-33
And many, many more verses could be added. The above is only a small sampling of the alignment of scripture with the principles of Lent.
So, should we celebrate Lent?
If we do so, its key to look at what we choose to do through the lens of biblical scripture – as with any decision we make. Of course, its always a good idea to abstain from sinful things, to live a healthy lifestyle and break unhealthy patterns in our lives.
And God’s word doesn’t urge us to do these things for six weeks, six months or even six years. No, we are asked to lose our lives and follow Jesus (Luke 9:24). This means to continually be moving toward our lives resembling that of Christ – which we will never fully accomplish in this life – but to keep moving in that direction with the help, urging and power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Much like New Year’s Resolutions can help us break unhealthy habits or begin new, better ones, we can use the Lenten season to kick start the way we live out our lives in the direction of our Savior. And when we feel the pain, miss the fix, deny the pleasure or abstain from sin, we are prompted to look towards the heavens and thank God for His willingness to provide the strength, His mercy to forgive and the patience to wait for us to move towards Him.
[image credit: fully catholic dot com]