Every year it’s the same thing. But this year it was even more obvious. That’s why coming in at #9 on my All Time least Favorite Questions list is the Lenten staple: “What are you giving up this year?”
To all of you ‘suffering’ from a lack of chocolate of caffeine, I say, “Why bother?” Your pseudo-sacrifice reeks of self-interest and self-serving traditionalism. Let me save you 40 days of ‘true caffeine free agony’ – God is not impressed. There, now you can resume the daily coffee and soda and continue your shallow, ritual based relationship with God. But leave the ashes on your forehead – they look super cool.
I have no problem with traditions and rituals that truly enlighten. I love to hear stories of true spiritual depth gained and sustained through their observances. However, I will never stop raging against the ‘christian choreography’ that gives people excuses to “play” Christian and in so doing mock my Savior.
I’m new to the whole Lenten observance thing. So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Lent was actually intended to be a celebration of all that is shallow and artificial about Christian sacrifice.
Or maybe it was set aside to refocus our lives and re-center our priorities around the cross of Christ. Maybe the sacrifice we’re supposed to make each Lent is ourselves – and not because the calendar says it’s Self Sacrifice Week. Maybe Christ’s sacrifice ought to break us every time every time we’re reminded of it.
Lent is a time for us to reflect on our lives in light of our call as Christians. (In this way, Lent is symbolic for all our days as Christians.) A more reasonable approach to the Lenten Pseudo-Sacrifice I’ve heard says: “You devote the time you would’ve spent with whatever you’ve given up to Christ.”
Sounds fair, but...
Casual Lenten Observer: “Jesus, I have decided that you will receive from me, for the period of 40 days, the 2 hours each day that I normally watch television.”
Jesus: “Thanks, but I want more.”
Casual Lenten Observer: “Fine; no caffeine or red meat either.”
Jesus: “What does that have to do with me?”
Casual Lenten Observer: “Well because it’s a sacrifice. You want me to sacrifice, right?”
Jesus: “Let me tell you about sacrifice…”
Christ isn’t interested in our symbolic gestures. He’s interested only in all of us. If we give him less, we might as well not even bother.
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