Lent, what's the deal?

Every year on Ash Wednesday (today) I feel the need to share with the world a few pointers on Lent.  What is Lent?  I copied the following definition from here.

"Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesdaymarks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter(Sundays are not included in the count).
Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting,repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection onJesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection."

That is the most basic definition. There have been tons and tons of wonderful, insightful, spiritual, reflective, inspiring things written about Lent and it's value to the person who is a follower of Christ. This is not one of those posts.  I would like to address one big, common misconception about Lent....

First, if you are going to "give up something for Lent" that is great. Please realize that you are not giving it up for Lent, you are giving it up for Jesus. The point of giving something up is that that sacrifice would draw you closer to Him. How does that work? Simple, every time you crave, want, desire or think about that thing you gave up,  you talk to the Lord, and allow the lack of chocolate, meat, TV, Facebook, or whatever to be a great reminder that when we draw near to God, he promises us to draw near to us. Simple concept, difficult in practice, but so was willingly going to be beaten, mocked and crucified. Get the idea.

Here is my main point that I would like the world to know and share. If you're giving something up that is clearly a sin, and thus something that isn't good for you, God doesn't desire for you, and something that is probably the cause of suffering for you and others, then you've chosen the wrong thing.  There is a season for giving up those things, it's called EVERY DAY!  So, if you're giving up cocaine, stealing, lying, gossiping, genocide, pornography, carjacking, outright gluttony, etc. for Lent, you've kind of missed the point. It's great that you're giving those things up, but you really should see that as more of a permanent decision, rather than a 40 day hiatus from deliberate sin.  Jesus has something better for you anyway.

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday. My limited capabilities for reasoning tell me that it is called that because people tend to overeat on that day, because they know they are going to be going without for the next 40 days. In the same vein as the above paragraph, if Fat Tuesday is an excuse for you to go on a weed fueled hooker and carjacking tour, then you haven't quite understood the whole point of following Christ. Good news, his mercy is new each morning and He is really excited that you read this and now you understand that this isn't about you so much as it is about Him!  So feel free to give up your marauding permanently, starting today, and embrace what it means to trust Christ with your struggle with sin every day for the rest of your life. It's a great ride, that isn't easy or simple, but rather wild, difficult, fun, adventurous, heartbreaking and every other emotion under the sun, and I wouldn't trade following Him for anything.

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