Thursday, March 2, 2017

What to Give up? A Different Kind of Lent

readings: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17   2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10    Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Ash Wednesday

The purpose of life is unity: to love God and others. (The Greek word) 'Theosis', or divinization, is the end result of this union. Because God the Son emptied (Greek word: kenosis) Himself to become what we are, we can be filled up and become what He is! 

Salvation is, above all, a new creation. God rescues us from the fallen world, the devil and most importantly from ourselves. He saves us from sin and death, so that He can recreate us as His children. In Lent we work with (Greek word: synergy, 2 Corinthians) the Holy Spirit. It is God's work, but without our cooperation it does not happen.

So Lent is a season of divine-human synergy. We work with The Spirit to become one with God. We are not trying to be better people, although that will happen. We are trying to let the Father's love make us new. He alone can save and re-create us.

Sin is the obstacle to this new creation and union. Sin creates disunity. Why do we sin?  Recently I discussed this with a good friend. He said that he thought the deadliest sin was fear. I think he is right and here is why. 

What motivated the first sin? Fear. They were afraid that they might miss out on the forbidden fruit. Their fear generated mistrust, they decided, "maybe we shouldn't believe God?" So then they take and eat the fruit, that was the crisis point--the moment of decision. They could have repented. They could have turned back and asked for mercy. Instead they killed the relationship because of fear. They heard God and were afraid, so they hid. When God finds them, then they start to blame others. Sins multiply. There is no repentance, just fear, mistrust and selfishness. Fear chokes love, even as it feeds doubt and despair. 

"Fear not" is repeated constantly in the Bible. Love and trust are the antidote for fear. Yes, we need courage, but courage is not the opposite of fear; love and trust are. Courage is the strength to choose obedient trust and love. Courage is the strength to turn from myself and look to others. Courage is the strength to love and serve the Lord.

The best Lenten disciplines turn us away from fear and doubt. The best Lenten disciplines focus on the Lord in hope, trust and love. What if this Lent we simply stop hiding and let God love and recreate us?

Rather than cokes and chocolate, I invite you to give up fear and doubt. (giving up chocolate and cokes is good, it's just needs to be part of a larger plan) Get a focus:
Focus on the Father's love in Jesus. 
Focus on trusting God and loving God. 
Focus on cooperating with the Holy Spirit.

You really are loved beyond what you can imagine. Ponder that and let it sink in! The Enemy wants you to live in fear. Whatever you do the next six weeks, do it to become one with Jesus. Pray. Empty yourself. Listen. Trust and love. Love and trust. All forty days....

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