The Weekly Perspective
by Burke Shade, Assistant Pastor
Pastor Josh Anderson of Colleyville, Texas has an interesting point about the practice of Lent:
In the Scriptures, there is often a temptation to understand piety before God as fundamentally about “giving up something” or fasting. But ultimately, defining piety as what you give up (or don’t do) can be reductionistic, and runs the risk of missing the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faithfulness. It is easier to give something up than to give yourself in constant service and love to those God has put into your life. We must take care to not mistake the lesser things in the law for the greater — we are commanded by Paul to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and the royal law of the Scriptures is the law of love and service.
I think he’s right: Lent often seems “selfish” because I give up something I decide to give up: Snicker’s bars, chocolate, game shows, coffee, dark beer, etc. Supposedly, I discipline myself for greater piety giving up those things.
But how about this instead: Jesus gave up his life for us, bearing our sins upon the cross. He walked the earth, was subject to humanity’s ills like colds, sickness, sore feet, etc., even before the cross. So rather than taking something out of our life for Lent, why don’t we add our life into that of our neighbor’s? Jesus gave himself for us; why don’t you give yourself for others like he did?
So this Lent, ask the shut-in if you can shop for them, clean out their garage, haul out the trash, or get stuff out of the attic they can’t retrieve! Or helping the single mom clean her bathroom, vacuum her car, or take her children out for some walks and picking up trash along the road?
I think you see where I’m going — giving yourself for others, looking outward, bringing the joy and cheer of giving to others! Like Jesus did for you!