Lent: More Than Just an Orthodox Practice
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I do not know about you, my reader, but I grew up thinking that the practice of Lent was for the Orthodox versions of Christianity and not really something that non-Orthodox congregations practiced. However, the basis of Lent is a good reminder to all Christians of the sacrifice Jesus made well before He gave His life on the Cross for us.
Matthew 4:1-2 (NCV)
Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into an isolated, desolate place to be tempted. Why? To strengthen Him. At the end of verse 2, we read that Jesus was very hungry. He had gone 40 days without food. His flesh was in a state of weakness and was battling His Spirit. However, Jesus had also had 40 days to “practice” denying His flesh. For 40 days, He had been hungry, so when Satan tempted Jesus to use His power for Jesus’ own personal gain, Jesus was already “practiced” and prepared for denying His own flesh.
Lent, a 40-day fast (not including Sundays, which would actually equal 46 days[a]), is done in remembrance of Jesus’ fast and fleshly sacrifice. This should be done for the purpose of preparing one’s mind and spirit for the Easter celebration of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
So, let me encourage you to consider participating in Lent, even if you have never done so before. Just as we often quote when partaking in the Lord’s Supper, let us remember Christ’s words, “Do this in remembrance of Me”.
What would you fast or give up to help strengthen your spirit and mind? To prepare your heart for Satan’s spiritual attacks? To attune your spirit more closely to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life? To draw closer to God? What can you give up?
[a] “When did Lent 2017 start, when does it end, why does it last 40 days and why do we give things up?” by Becky Pemberton, written for The Sun