March 1, Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of Lent, that 40 day season that leads us to Easter Sunday. For some Lent is a powerful spiritual experience. For others it’s a strange church thing that’s mostly about not eating chocolate till the Easter bunny shows up.
The word Lent is said to come from an old Anglo-Saxon word for spring. And Lent certainly coincides with spring. It’s message is illustrated in the hope of new life we all anticipate as spring gets near.
We’ve had a strange winter; cold, warm, cold again. Even as I am writing the snow is gone and the temp is in the 50s. It feels wonderful! It’s still early though. The snow may return, but now snow is fighting a losing battle, because the sun is making its comeback. Snow depends on dark and cold. Light and warmth are taking over. From the cold and death of winter, life is returning.
What a powerful picture of what God wants to do in the human soul. John R. W. Stott writes, “Christianity is a religion of salvation...” (Basic Christianity, p. 15). In Christ God saves us from the death of sin and gives us new life.
The path to experience new life requires us to face two realities: our sin and our mortality. Just as spring overcomes snow, life in Christ overcomes our sin and death. We need to face our sin to find new life. Lent can help us do that in a redemptive way.
While serving my first church, I led a Bible study on God’s daily presence. Each week began with an evaluation of our present relationship with Christ. We marked our position on a chart, drew a time line, or sat in the sanctuary; close to the altar if we felt close to God, way in the back if we didn’t. And each week we studied the Bible about a daily relation with God through Christ. At about week five one man stopped us all and asked, “Do you mean that we can really have a daily relationship with Jesus Christ?” It took repeated exposure to the same message for him to get it. And then it was as if someone had turned on flood lights. He could finally see what was always there.
Here’s the light of Lent: Sin leads to our spiritual death BUT Jesus Christ defeated sin and death on the cross. When we receive Jesus Christ, he makes us CLEAN and we start life over, but this time with Christ alive in us. We are changed, so we can steer the course that leads to life. We come again to the cross so that we can know we are really clean and really alive!
My prayer is that this season you will discover again, your new life in Christ.
Yours in Christ,
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.