“2 If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if one loves God, one is known by him.”
1 Cor. 8:2-3
The Real Goal of Lent
Here, in St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians, we have the essence of our life in Christ. We are never as good and holy as we should be, and if we think we are, we have a long way to go. Holiness is best understood as an understanding of ourselves in proper relationship to God. The closer we get to Him, the less holy we feel. Or, as St. Paul says here, the more knowledge we think we have, the less we actually know.
Today we mark the mid-way point through Lent. By now, your choices for fasting and self-denial have probably become somewhat of a challenge to keep. I know yesterday I wanted something that I gave up so badly, my mind began to rationalize how it would be okay if I gave in just this once. At that point, I realized I was not growing closer to Jesus, but away from Him. I want to here His voice tell me, “I can do this”, not my voice saying, “I can’t do this.”
You see, we don’t grow closer to Jesus by giving up foods. Paul tells us in verse 8 that, “food will not commend us to God”; neither the eating nor abstaining is in itself holy. The heart is always what matters. God isn’t interested in our starving ourselves. However, He is interested in our learning to lay aside our own desires, for what He desires for us.
It’s All About Control
If, with the help of the Spirit, I cannot overcome my desire for a food I’ve vowed to God to deny myself for a time, how can I possibly avoid the greater temptations to sin? Food isn’t the issue; it’s all about what or who controls us. The church calls us to seasons of fasting, as during Lent, that through such disciplines we learn to hear the voice of God’s Spirit shaping our desires, rather than our own
During Lent we learn to know ourselves better. Our goal and our hope is that we discover our weaknesses, and in the process allow the Holy Spirit to mold us more and more in Christ’s likeness. In the process of such testing and learning, we can take comfort in the knowledge that the one who knows us best, loves us. And, His love isn’t conditioned on our response, or our passing the test of Lent perfectly. Rather, God’s love is with us no matter what. Whether we feel this Lent we are soaring with eagles, or if we feel we’ve already crashed and burned…He is always faithful to raise us from the ashes.
Grace & Peace for a Holy Lent,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”