Jesus Wants Your Life Not Your Chocolate (Lent) (Updated from March 2011)

Posted: March 10, 2011 in Holidays, Thoughts, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Every year when the months of February, March and April come around the discussion of Lent comes up.  Without fail I will enter into a conversation with somebody about the topic of what they gave up for lent.  Sometimes I will hear junk food, steak or even tv.  Yet chocolate seems to be one of the number one things that I hear in this giving up discussion.

I have often asked people why they have given things up only to be told, “It is Lent.”  Sorry that is not a good enough answer.  If I am going to give something up I need my reason to be more than “just because” or it’s a tradition.  Perhaps in my simple mind I just don’t get it.  Maybe giving up chocolate or American Idol truly does make one more like Christ.  Then again maybe not.   I for one am pretty sure that Christ never watched American Idol and He probably did not consume much chocolate.

So why do so many give something up?

Well I suppose to answer this question, we must first define what Lent is.  The most simple definition that I can give is that it is the forty days preceding Easter.  It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday (depending on your convictions).  It is known by some as the season of repentance or the season of discipline and due to the nature of these 40 days it is often seen as a somber time period.

According to one source I read, there are at least 3 things that are to be accomplished by abstaining from something during the Lenten period.  1.  It is used as a discipline for learning self-control, to free our minds from chasing after material things and to tell ourselves ‘no’ and make it stick.  2.  To identify with Christ’s sufferings, and to remember what the true pleasures are for followers of Christ.  3.  Finally it serves as an act of sorrow over our wrongdoings and our state of sin.

We now have a simple definition of Lent and a basic understanding of the need for a fast during the Lenten season.  Now let’s examine what Scripture says about the early church and how they spend the 40 days preceding the resurrection.

Well that was easy.  Scripture does not utter one word about what the early church did in the days leading up to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.  It is not there.  The period of time that we know as Lent is not found in the Bible.

Giving  something up is a Scriptural concept.  In fact we are told as Christians that we should lay our lives down daily.  Daily sacrifice is required by believer’s if they are to live lives that conform to God’s expectations.  Their conduct should change.  Their desires should change.  Their thought process should change.  Their relationships should change.  I could go on, but I am sure you get the point.  The point is we must daily pursue Christ and give Him our all and not just give Him our chocolate during lent.

I mean come on.  Do you really think that giving up chocolate identifies with Christ’s sufferings?  HE WAS TORTURED TO DEATH!!!  What it does prove is that most religions fail to understand the magnitude of what Christ did.

So in closing I would say, give Christ your life not your chocolate.  He is more than willing to fill  your spiritual walk and let you fill your sweet tooth.

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Comments
  1. Robin Morse says:

    Amen John! We are also not to appear as if we are fasting when doing so as it is a solemn thing between you and God. I have never understood this religious practice either!

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  2. Rob says:

    I’n not so sure it is proper to say that something not in the Bible isn’t biblical. The church calendar was designed by the early church to keep us thinking about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus throughout the year, not just on that day. Lent, is a time of sacrifice and reflection and preparation for what will happen during Holy week (40 days plus Sundays), and therefore, people are asked to give up something extra, and use their craving for that item as a time to pray, or serve, or use the money they’d spend on that item for a mission or ministry.
    So you are right, we should give our whole self to Jesus every day. But a call to prayer and fasting as we reflect on Christ’s sacrifice for us is hardly unbiblical. And to break that fast the day we celebrate the resurrection seems appropriate…espacially since the basket the bunny leaves will be full of chocolate.

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  3. pastor242 says:

    Rob you are correct fasting is Biblical and we should set aside time to focus on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Fasting of the masses and telling people what we are giving up is not the Biblical model for fasting. Matthew 6 gives instruction to how a fast should be done. I do not think the Lenten period reflects these instructions.
    I will say that I do like the concept of giving things up. We live in a very self-centered society. Christians should not become more focused on Christ because of their calendar. They should do so because they want to.
    I figured I would catch some flack for this post.
    Thanks for your feedback Rob.

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  4. Rob says:

    Ahh, but lent is not about fasting pastor, it is about sacrificing and using that sacrifice to turn your attention to Jesus, the least, the last and the lost. And the calendar is a tool to help us maintain focus beacuse we want to…it is a help. My guess is that if you thought hard enough, you could name a few tools you use to maintain your spiritual disciplines. Lent, and other season of the church calendar, and the disciplines certain christians have used for centuries to help them maintain focus are not a lot different than Christian radio, WWJD bracelets, read your Bible in a year tracts, devotional books, and many other things that a lot of people have embraced to help in the same way.
    I get that a lot of people use this to make themselves feel or appear more spiritual ( a problem that shows up in a lot of ways in the church), but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

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