What is Lent? No, it’s not what you find in your bellybutton or dryer, although that may be true for some of us. Most of us know about the “lint” in our bellybuttons because we are so good at navel-gazing. We know all the hit songs like “It’s All About Me, Jesus.” Our culture feeds on putting ourselves out there, being noticed and becoming famous. Check out Twitter and Facebook. We are consumed with being noticed. “After all, I’m my own biggest fan.”
Jesus tells a story in Luke about a Pharisee who is praying in the Temple, “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there” (Luke 18:11). Then the Pharisee gives his laundry list of how awesome he really is: “I don’t cheat, I haven’t committed adultery, I fast twice a week, and to top it all off, I tithe 10%.” This was like a celebrity tweeting his/her awesomeness all over the Twitterverse. This Pharisee was his biggest fan! In contrast, Jesus talks about the tax collector who beat his chest and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Jesus is blatantly clear that the tax collector, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14b). Jesus’ way is not about self-promotion. It is sacrificial. It is service. It is love.
Lent is a time when we reflect on the way of Jesus. Lent is sacrifice. Lent is preparation. Lent is reflection. Lent is repentance. Lent is self-denial. Lent is a time, believe it or not, that’s not about us. “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30). Is Jesus “greater and greater” in your life? Are there things you are holding on to that make him “less and less”? This Lent season, let us surrender to the ways of Jesus so that He can be “greater and greater” in our lives.
Other questions you may want to ask yourself:
Do you find yourself hoping that people notice and respond to your Facebook posts? And are you disappointed when they don’t?
Would you be willing to go “unnoticed” for a day? A week? And would God’s love and presence be enough? Why or why not?
James Ballard was a guest speaker at camp last summer at our Fall Retreat. Click HERE to see James giving a video tour of one of the night game’s at the fall retreat.