For the Earth or For The Soul
The Christian church is now in the season of Lent. For those unfamiliar with what Lent is, both inside and outside Christiananity, let me clarify it for you.
Lent is a Christian Church created time period, it is the forty day period starting on Ash Wednesday leading up to Easter. The Season is to represent the forty days of fasting Jesus experienced in the Wilderness leading up to the start of his ministry. This time is viewed as a period of self sacrifice and obedience.
Given that Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, I thought it would be well to explain what Ash Wednesday is. Basically, it is a Christian Church created day. According to tradition, the primary purpose is to serve as a reminder to Christians of their own mortality. This is typically reinforced by a reminder that we came from dust and will return to dust. The event is culminated by the marking of the participants forehead with ashes, which were obtained by burning the palm leaves from the previous years Palm Sunday Service(more on Palm Sunday later).
During Lent, Christians typically identify some item, usually a vice, that he or she is willing to forego during the season in order to bring them into a more obedient relationship with God. The season is to be full of reflection and prayer to help in the process of coming closer to God.
But over the years, especially when I was Pastoring a church, I noted way too often the sacrifices people were willing to make were not in line with scripture. For instance, people were willing to sacrifice chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, etc, all things of the earth but seldomly ever did I hear anyone mention the more important stuff.
An important thing to remember over the forty days of Lent is not what Jesus was doing, but what he was preparing for. Fasting, in the old testament, was a way to center on God and build strength. By removing the distractions, one could clearly be strong in God because all else had been removed, and the Soul is no longer distracted.
Jesus was preparing to face Satan. He was preparing to be tempted, and because he was flesh, he was susceptible to the temptation Satan would put before him. In all that Satan offered, each would prevent Jesus from going the way of prophecy, and if he accepted Satan's offer(s), Jesus would not have to suffer on the Cross.
But through fasting, the foregoing of the flesh to focus on the Spirit, Jesus was in one with God, Remember just before the wilderness, Jesus was baptized and the spirit of the God descended on him. And then he was immediately in the wilderness. It was thru Fasting that Jesus became one with the Spirit of God, one with God and able to stand in the face of temptation.
For the Christians today, I challenge you during this season, BE BOLD!
Forego the easy things to leave behind, they typically only affect the body, and we usually start a countdown to when we can start doing those things again.
This Lent, lay that which kills the soul, the things that build the wall between your soul and God.
Be Bold, lay down the Hate, racism, judgement. Lay down the devisiness, lieing, Jealousy, and envy. Make the choice to lay down anything that drives the spirit of God out of you and fast, literally fast, and pray, literally pray, without ceasing, that when Lent is over, you do not pick these things back up.
Let this lent be a true change, not just another event in the Church calendar that you can check off of your list as having completed for this year.
Let this Lent be the one, yes the one that does not only prepare you for Easter, But prepares you for facing Satan.
For non Christians, I challenge you to practice the focus of Lent during this time. I challenge you to lay down those things which prevent you from being open and loving to your fellow man. The things that keep you from being honest to your closest friends and family. Use it as a time to meditate about past failures and successes and focus on what events lead to the outcome. Think about how you felt during each. Seek ways to love more and hate less. Focus on how to love and be loved.
Jesus’ last commandment was, “ to go and make students of him”. Not to go and make Christians. He wanted his followers to spread the word of his teachings, and bring people to him first. From there, as the students sought to learn of his ways, he would send the spirit just as he did to the disciples, and let each make the choice as to whether or not he was worthy to be followed.
None of us are born a Christian, none of us can give salvation, Each of us has a choice to make.