From the church’s earliest days, Lent was a time of preparation for Easter. The Resurrection of Christ was celebrated not only each week (on Sunday, the Lord’s Day), but also in a special festival of the Resurrection. As we look forward to the Resurrection, Lent is traditionally focused on repentance. Speaking biblically, to repent means to make a change in our attitudes, words and lifestyles. The Christian life in its totality is a life of repentance. Beginning when we first commit our lives to Christ, and continuing throughout our lives, we are more and more turning away from sin and self-centeredness and more and more turning to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to experience true freedom and rest.
Lent, therefore, is a time for focusing on the heart, a time for asking questions about our spiritual health:
- What are my characteristic sins, and how can I work and pray for change?
- What idols have captured my imagination so that my love for the living God has grown cold
- In what ways is my devotion to Christ and his church less than wholehearted?
The Lenten season is the spiritual equivalent of an annual physical exam; it’s a time to take stock of our lives, our hearts. The point of Lent is not to give up chocolate; it’s to give up sin! May the Lord meet you deeply as you recognize the depth of your limitations and need and move in fresh ways toward him this season. Jesus our King is more glorious and gracious than we ever think or imagine.
This introduction was adapted from Craig Higgins’ article “On Keeping a Holy Lent” Cover Art: "Harbor Crossing" by Jeremy Mangan, 2012. Used with permission.