Many Christians misinterpret the true purpose of the Lenten season. Lent is more than giving up candy, alcohol or smoking. Lent is a time to go into the desert with Christ to reflect on our lives. Lent is a time for change and conversion. It’s a time to move our center of gravity from selfishness to selflessness, from self-love to love of neighbor, from lust to love, from greed to sharing.
Lent gives us an opportunity to confront the demons within us – to ask the question, “Who are we really worshiping in life?” It’s a time to name those obstacles that keep us from being the loving persons that God wants us to be. Lent can help us believe that the real power in the world is love.
Lent is an opportunity to look at our priorities in life to see whether they are Jesus’ priorities. It’s an opportunity to examine our attitudes and see if we have “the mind of Christ.”
In the Christian life as with all life, attitude is everything. Our actions follow from our attitudes. If we have a bad attitude, we will do bad things. If we have a Christlike attitude, we will do Christlike things. So it is very important that we develop a Christian attitude based on Jesus’ teachings.
Developing our faith and trust are the essential elements of our Lenten journey. John Foppe, a young man born without arms, expressed this kind of faith when he said, “You don’t need a lot of resources in life. You need a positive attitude. Our only real disabilities are those emotional and mental ones that prevent us from participating fully in life.”
The ashes we receive on Ash Wednesday are our pledge to change and become more Christlike. That is why we need to read more Sacred Scripture and other good spiritual writings during Lent so we can know the mind of Christ. We need to spend more time in prayer and works of mercy. We need to make sure that we are real disciples of Christ.
Sometimes we are afraid to make changes and let go of hatred, revenge, and vengeance. Yet if we take the time to listen to the voice within us, it will be saying, “Let go, let go, trust me, believe in my way, let go.” The voice will be also saying, “Fear not. I have overcome the world.”
Here are some practical suggestions to help us turn our lives around. Instead of giving up things that may not change our lives – like candy, foods or drink – try the following:
- Abstain from judging others; look for Christ living in them.
- Abstain from emphasizing differences; celebrate the unity of all life.
- Abstain from dwelling on apparent darkness; center on the reality of God’s light.
- Abstain from concentrating on our illnesses; focus on God’s healing power.
- Abstain from being discontented; graciously count your blessings.
- Abstain from words that tear down; use only words that build up.
- Abstain from concentrating on problems that overwhelm; turn to prayer that encourages.
- Abstain from dwelling in clouds of sorrow; experience the joy of the presence of God.
- Abstain from anger; learn the art of patience.
- Abstain from procrastination; be enthusiastic about life.
- Abstain from pessimism; look at the positive side of life.
- Abstain from worry; experience God’s care.
- Abstain from complaining; be appreciative for all God’s blessings.
- Abstain from bitterness; learn how to forgive and let go.
- Abstain from self-concerns; learn compassion for others.
- Abstain from discouragement; be a source of hope for others.
- Abstain from suspicion; search out the truth.
- Abstain from thoughts that weaken; feed on promises that inspire.
- Abstain from idle gossip; learn the art of meditative silence.
May God inspirit you to have a wonderful Lenten journey!
Posted on Fri, February 20, 2015
by Rev. Wilmer L. Todd