The Heart of Lent

This Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent – the forty days leading up to Easter.

Christians around the world fast during this season as a reminder of the self-denial and self-sacrifice of Jesus.

To be honest, I haven’t given anything up for Lent in, well, years.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the call to self-denial and self-sacrifice in preparation of the celebration of Easter.

It’s just that that’s not why I ever participated in Lent.

I participated in Lent because, consciously or not, I understood it to be an opportunity to drop a couple of pounds under the guise of spiritual discipline. I never gave up sugar so that I could better reflect on the self-denial and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. I gave up sugar because I wanted a better body.

I’m not saying that anyone who gives up sugar – or anything else, for that matter – must have a skewed heart or skewed motives. If sugar is an addiction for you, giving it up may, in fact, serve as a reminder that Jesus gave Himself us so that we could be free from any and every stronghold. So, please don’t hear condemnation for what you’ve given up in the past or intend to give up this year.

I’m telling you about me. I’m telling you about my heart and my motives.

I have a remarkable propensity for taking what is intended to fix my eyes on Christ and twisting it so I can keep my eyes on myself.

Maybe you can relate.

If you can, let’s, together, agree to do Lent differently this year.

If we give up anything, let’s make it that which places us, rather than Jesus, at the center of the story.

After all, Lent is not about what we can do for ourselves.

Lent is about remembering what Christ has already done for us.