Making Lent Real

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“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice and is never the result of selfishness.”  Napoleon Hill

Lent is about sacrifice.  It has been practiced for at least 1800 years as Christians prepared for the celebration of Easter.  I find it ironic that some churches don’t understand what sacrifice means.

Let me back track for a bit.  About 7 years ago I was with a church that was meeting to define its purpose.  Just what did it want be hold as it’s main standards of living?  What did that church want the community to know about them?  Those who were there split up into groups of fours and fives and talked and discussed what each person wanted.  I’d bet there were close to ten groups that night.  Terms were tossed around like caring, friendly, good kids program, Bible based preaching, good music program and on and on.  But I did not hear sacrifice.  I told my small group that without sacrifice there is no Christianity.  Sacrifice must be the center of everything that we do.  The others in my group eventually decided that sacrifice should be added to our core.  My wife had a similar experience in her group.

All the groups were brought together and each listed it’s ideas of the core values of the church.  My group and my wifes were the only ones that listed sacrifice.  We again had to fight for the idea that sacrifice should be part of the church.  That blew me away.  Then the leader of the meetings said that in the ten years he’d been doing these seminars no church had listed sacrifice as a core value.  I was astonished.

Eventually I got my way and sacrifice was listed as a core value.  However it was only listed as a surface value.  It had no depth.  When you have to fight to put sacrifice or anything into a groups core, the group really doesn’t hold to that deeply and they just let it slip under the rug.

What is Easter if it is no about sacrifice?  Jesus went to the cross to sacrifice himself for the greater good of humanity.  Without his sacrifice there would be no Christianity, and yet sacrifice is now too hard for the church.  To hard for the church to do for the God they so eagerly say they want to serve.

No man can serve two masters, they cannot love God and safety, they can not love God and their comfortable life.  We can not love the poor without sacrificing our pride.  No one can love the sick and dying without sacrificing their comfort.  Jesus loved the lepers, the poor, the prostitutes, the destitute and more.  How much are you willing to sacrifice to be like him?

From Tertullian we got the phrase “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”  What is a martyr but someone who sacrificed everything for God?  You may not give up your life in the name of God, but would you be willing to?  That is a hard question, not easily answered.  No one knows for sure until it’s too late.

Lent as well as life is about becoming more like God.  Giving up our lives to follow the path that God has laid in front of us.  I have found that the more I follow the true path the harder it becomes.  It is not about a life of ease, the nice house, family or job.  It’s about stripping away the things that hold us all back from truly loving those people that we just can’t stand.  Stripping away wants and desires until all that is left is God and nothing else.

Who’s willing to be spiritually naked before the world and let them see your true self.  Not the self that is hidden behind fear, religion, rules, or what society tells us is right.  But the self that God wants the world to see.  The self that God created in the first place.

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