Why Lent is Important and Why Working for Christ is not the Same as Being with Christ
I need to observe Lent. I am distracted. I am so consumed with doing things for Christ that I miss out on being with Christ. This is not a new problem. Even in the early Church, Christians struggled with this distraction. There is so much to do. So many people who need to be served. The Gospel message needs to be preached. So much Orthodoxy needs to be defended and explained. The early church in Ephesus had these same problems. They were radical workers and servers of Christ. But despite all their work, Christ was not pleased with their devotion. It wasn’t enough.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says: 2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 You also possess endurance and have tolerated [many things] because of My name, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love [you had] at first. 5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 Yet you do have this: you hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” — Revelation 2:1-7
The church’s labors and hard-work was not enough. Christ wanted their heart. He wants my heart and yours as well.
Too often, I am caught up in doing, acting, working, and serving in the name of Christ. But in reality, I have worked at the expense of a more intimate time with Christ.
Too often, I jump out of bed and think of all the things I need to do that day for the church and growing the ministries that God has blessed me with. But a more intimate and personal time of prayer and communion comes secondarily.
I have, therefore, reluctantly decided to observe Lent.
Lent, in the traditional liturgical year, is the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It is connected to the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness focusing and getting ready for his ministry. Lent, than, is the Christian response to this sacrifice in which the follower of Christ prays, repents, gives, and sacrifices in order that he or she may refocus and prepare their hearts for the cross.
For me, I need to refocus on Christ, not just working for Christ.
Too often we confuse these things, exchanging one for the other. Working for Christ is a necessary reaction to the sacrifice our Father has provided for us. But communion with Him, God’s desire and hope for us through this sacrifice, is the ultimate end.
May the Holy Spirit guide us all and prepare our hearts even now for our encounter with Christ on the cross this Good Friday.
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