I love ranunculus flowers. The other day I noticed this display of them on a friend’s table and I was ecstatic! Ranunculus! Spring is coming! Flowers and shorts and bike rides and picnics and Easter! I absolutely love this time of year when everything is blooming and life literally feels reborn after winter. There’s hope for my pale skin yet again! The promise of summer looms! Sun dresses get moved to the front of the closet! And with all of that comes the season of Lent, which… is something I’ve always felt really conflicted about.
Yesterday was Pancake Tuesday, which for obvious reasons is one of my favorite days. I also mentioned briefly that I don’t observe Lent and that I might explain why… But I didn’t realize so many people would actually want to know what I think about it, but you did! So. I’m sticking to my word and explaining a bit.
The short version? Our culture, both secular and Christian, is entirely too self-absorbed. It’s no wonder the word of the year last year was “selfie”! We are obsessed with ourselves— keeping ourselves healthy, happy, relevant, accepted, celebrated. Lent has become just another celebration of self (not that all 100% of people have succumbed to this, but it is sure prevalent.) We take a season that is supposed to celebrate and recognize the monumental, unfathomable sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord and have made it a way to eat more veggies or stop watching TV. We’ve trivialized it in such a way that it’s a competition of Self— “what can I do or give up for 40 days that will make myself better? What will people think of me if I give up/do this for Lent? I will be better. I will be awesome. I want people to know how holy I am.”
Colossians 2 tells us not to be “puffed up” (self-absorbed) about keeping rules and regulations which Christ has not mandated. We are not to “submit to regulations- ,”Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)- according to human precepts and teachings.” Paul tells us that these “have indeed an appearance of wisdom […] but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Abstaining from dessert for 40 days might indeed be good for your body! But what does giving up dessert have to do with honoring Jesus or putting to death the sin that reigns within us?
Ultimately, you have the freedom in this to do what your conscience pricks. The Gospel has set us free from earning our own righteousness (doing this and that to make ourselves better and more worthy), but we can and should obey and honor The Lord with our lives! For you, that could mean observing Lent. It also could not. If you don’t feel led to observe Lent, think about why! If you do, think about why! If your reasons are about you and not about Him, pause and think. Our hearts are deceitful above all things— there is much of “Christianity” today that has nothing to do with loving Jesus but instead with loving ourselves.
Whatever your conviction is about Lent, here’s the hope: Later in Colossians Paul says “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” We serve and obey and live to honor Him because He has already given us everything we need in Christ. Now go eat a cookie and remember that you’re already more loved and known than you dare to hope :)