Monday, February 16, 2015

Ash Wednesday Isn't For Brownie Points It's For Freedom

This week across the globe people will commemorate death.  On Ash Wednesday folks will begin celebrating Lent.  Many will have the sign of the cross made on their forehead with ash.  This is to identify with death, specifically as related to the verse in Genesis, “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  Lent is forty days of preparation for Passion.  Oh that we lived in the fullness of that Sunday and not in the shadow of that Friday.

People get stuck on Lent.  They focus on the giving up.  Somehow it gets to be all about them and what they’re giving up---that’s been my impression anyway, “Hey, if I give up Twinkies God will love me more!  Brownie points for Twinkies, yay!”  This is my first year doing Lent.  The wife and I are giving up minor food-stuffs in hopes that we will be more focused on Christ and Resurrection Sunday.  Not for Brownie points, just as a spiritual nudge to think about what matters.

What matters isn’t the diminutive deprivation (we’re not giving up coffee).  It’s more about who matters than what matters.  We choose to focus on Christ, His sacrifice and the resurrection which bought us complete freedom to live in the fullness of whom we are designed to be.  That is the fullness of that life-giving Sunday.  The words that changed Martin Luther, “Therefore, having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” that is what matters.  It’s free.  No Brownie points to earn God’s favor; Christ died, Christ paid, Christ rose for us.  It’s that simple.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness,” says Paul.  We have fullness.  Or as MercyMe sings it, “You are holy, righteous and redeemed.”   We fast for that.  On Easter, we feast for that.  We break fast, celebrate and enter into that fullness that Christ bought for us that Sunday when He rose from the dead.

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