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Three Bad Reasons To Keep Lent-and ONE Really Good Reason

Lent is here once again—where did those past twelve months go?

But what exactly IS Lent, and why is it still relevant today? Read on as we discuss three reasons not to observe Lent, followed by the one good reason why it still matters.

The origins of observing Lent can be traced right the way back to the early Christian Church. The exact date of the first observance of Lent is unknown—but we know it was observed by the fourth century AD.

At first, the purpose of Lent was to prepare new converts for baptism, typically performed at the Easter Vigil service.

During Lent, new converts would undergo a period of fasting and instruction in the Christian faith. This practice eventually spread to the entire Christian community, and Lent became a period of spiritual renewal for Christians to prepare for Easter.

The duration of Lent—40 days (which don’t include the Sundays, by the way) is believed to have been chosen because it reflects the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry.

Over the centuries, the observance of Lent has evolved and changed. Today, many Christians still observe the traditional practices of fasting and spiritual discipline during Lent, but the specific customs and rituals vary depending on the denomination and cultural context.

Here are THREE wrong reasons to keep Lent in your life—plus ONE good reason.

1. Because it’s cool

For much of the 20th Century, Lent appeared to be in terminal decline amongst Christians. It was something for certain types of churches—but was very much the minority of churches which seemed to even bother with it.

If we put an Ash Wednesday service into the schedule, I could expect a handful of people to show up.

But my observation is that Lent has made a comeback in recent years. Many churches—not just Catholics or Episcopalians—hold Ash Wednesday services, and I found them well-attended spiritual occasions.

Increasing numbers of people from all walks of life are jumping on the Lent bandwagon. Maybe some people feel disconnected from God and want a tangible way to reignite their spirituality.

Or perhaps they feel adrift in the modern world and want to reconnect with ancient practices.

In any case, what we don’t need to do is join the herd out of fear of missing out.

The mystique will wear off faster than the dirt on your forehead from Ash Wednesday if you only keep Lent because the cool kids are doing it.

2. Because it “shows off” your spiritual life.

Let’s be honest: It’s natural to want to be admired for our spiritual virtue. I know I do.

But Lent is a time for us to seek a more significant reward: the blessing of God the Father, ours through the gift of his Son Jesus.

“Beware of practising your righteousness before other people to be seen by them,” Jesus warned, “for then you will have no reward from your Father who is heaven (Matthew 6.1)

Whether fasting, praying more regularly or giving our money to the poor, Jesus warns us against showcasing it for “likes.”

By all means, seek support for the journey. Just don’t broadcast it for the ego boost.

3. Because we think it will make God happy.

Sometimes I like to think I can control God, making him happy (or just less angry)

And taking up the classic Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and generosity towards others might seem like an excellent way of doing that.

At its heart, this is a "hunger strike" approach to God—it’s like going without food to get the attention of the prison warden.

I’ve found out the hard way that God does not play along with that silly game.

This will leave us either proud or depressed:

“Why have we fasted, and you see it not?” bemoans Isaiah.

The absolute truth is that God loves us anyway. And nothing we do during Lent will make Him love us anymore (or any less, for that matter)

So why SHOULD we keep Lent?

I don’t know if you participate in Lent or not, but it’s not too late to start. You can jump in right now.

The first step is to pray and ask God how he would have you prepare for Easter. Would he have you give up something? Or take something up.

It could be that you give up a certain amount of time each day to read through the Gospels and pray.

Or maybe there is an idol in your life that God wants to break from your grip.

Regardless of what it is, the purpose of lent is not to eat healthily and exercise as if we’re attempting to keep a New Year’s Resolution.

The ONE good reason for Lent is to prepare your heart and life for celebrating what Christ has done for us on the Cross and through the Resurrection. For Easter.

Lent is a time – THE time - of preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It’s a time for us to focus on what it means that Christ came, that He died, and that He rose again.

Have you spent time meditating about what it means that Jesus died for your sins?

If you haven’t, you’re missing the one good reason to keep a holy Lent.


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