by Clayton Imoo
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)
If you ask a young person what he might be doing for Lent, you’ll likely get responses along the lines of: “I’m going to spend less time on the internet” or “I’m giving up eating chocolate.”
Granted, these may be noble notions on their own, but young people (along with many adults) often get too caught up in what they might be “giving up” for Lent instead of why they are doing it.
We know that Lent is a solemn, reflective season that prepares us for Christ’s glorious resurrection at Easter. The forty days of Lent recall the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert resisting Satan’s temptations before starting his public ministry. During Lent, Christians are called to renew themselves through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (charity). Think of it as a spiritual tune-up.
Solemn and reflective does not have to mean miserable and depressed. Lent gives youth ministers a wonderful opportunity to teach about sacrifice, and how these sacrifices can be pleasing to God. When we sacrifice in one area, we grow or make room in another; in the case of Lent it’s in our relationship with God. Fasting is a perfect example: it’s less about what we are giving up (food) and more about how we are growing (in prayer).
One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
An avid cola drinker, for the past 5 or 6 years I have proudly proclaimed that I am giving up pop for Lent. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that simply sacrificing pop wasn’t enough…God was challenging me to do more. To spend more time in prayer. To be a better steward of my resources. And to be more generous.
As youth ministers, we can pray for humility; that we can “die to ourselves” and instead set our hope on the living God. In doing so we recall the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.
So now, I still give up drinking pop and I look forward to losing 5 to 10 pounds in the process. But that’s only a small part of my Lenten plan to strengthen my relationship with God and with others. Forty days should be enough time.
I just need to find an alternative to Pepsi!