Being an Anglican of somewhat dubious pedigree, I may not be quite as much into the Church calendar as some folks. However, even I have got it into my head that there is this time called ‘Lent’, that it happens before Easter and is characterised by ‘giving up something’. Or, well, is it?
If you don’t mind indulging me for a paragraph or two, I will inflict upon you my observation on this time. Either it will show I have learned something, or that I have a lot to learn. Let the reader decide….
To me, it’s ultimately not about giving things up. That, if you like, is the part of the iceberg that is above the surface. Ultimately it is about Christ – that He may become greater while we become less. If our focus is on what we have given up, then I would contend that we are focusing on the wrong thing. Rather, the only reason for giving things up is so that our focus may be more keenly on Him, perhaps as we realise how much of our focus has been elsewhere – we see that truth through the lens of renunciation.
It is the mark of an addict – and we are all addicted to various things to a greater or lesser degree – that believes oneself capable of picking up or dropping the addiction at ease. Lent provides the testing ground for that theory, which usually finds itself wanting. The trick at that point is not to continue our focus upon the addiction (and then perhaps at the end of the 40 days to congratulate ourselves at our marvellous self-control (or condemnation at our lack of it)), but to shift our focus on Christ alone – to take the gifts we had bestowed on our idols, and bring them to the foot of His cross.
That, to my mind, is the key. For, all other things will fade away. All other things time will destroy, nothing will remain but Christ alone. Lent is in a small way meant to remind us of that fact – that in the fullness of Christ alone is everything we need: the man that has Christ lacks nothing, the one who does not, though he possesses the world, in the end finds nothing but ashes.
I am so thankful, Peter, for your dubious pedegree! I have focused on the wrong things in years gone by as I clung to my cradle Anglican roots and followed the crowd. Yes, I’ve given up things only to count down the days until Easter and have taken on things, more reading and study, in more recent years only to find I fall victim to a false piety… and still count down the days until Easter! You are quite correct. Christ alone is sufficient and in Him only can all our needs be met.
This was a lovely piece. Thanks for the reminder of what is important and what is superflous.
“For, all other things will fade away. All other things time will destroy, nothing will remain but Christ alone. Lent is in a small way meant to remind us of that fact – that in the fullness of Christ alone is everything we need: the man that has Christ lacks nothing, the one who does not, though he possesses the world, in the end finds nothing but ashes.”
Amen Peter, Christ is our all in all, the only one who can satisfy the longing of our soul. Addictions are created by mans attempt to fill the place within that was created by God for His Spirit to dwell. But nothing can, save Jesus and His love.
This was such a good post Peter, and spot on. When fasting we so often focus on what we’re giving up, not Whom we gave it up for. Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, truest love and closest friend; it is indeed all about Him isn’t it?
Thank you and bless you my friend. I look forward to the time we speak again and share what’s on our hearts before the Lord, and for His Kingdom.
Our love to you, Ruthie and the children, with faith believing for the Lord will to be done and fulfilled in all our lives!
TAG You’re it!
I think that Lenten disciplines can work like New Year’s Resolutions – both tend to fail rather quickly. If we are attentive to this, we can discover our own insufficiency (we are dust and ashes), and throw ourselves on the sufficiency of Christ – “Wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord…”
But for the disciplines to work this way requires good preaching, teaching and pastoral care. People need be guided to Christ if their “relgious” endeavors are to have meaning. Colossians 2:16-23 is an awesome reading in support of what Peter’s post has to say.
Thank you one and all, sorry not to have time to respnd individually!