Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

So, how’s Lent going for you?

So many people during the Christian season of Lent give up something.  It’s what we’re suppose to do, right?  In preparation for celebrating Easter, we give up Starbucks or chocolate, or fast-food, and the list goes on.  And so we ask each other, “What have you given up?”  Almost like its the newest fad – its “in” to not eat chocolate for 40 days.  Or it’s “in” to not drink caffeine for 40 days and be a beast of a person because you didn’t get your morning caffeine and count down to Easter when you can have caffeine again.

The tradition of fasting during Lent is an ancient tradition.  But are we fasting in the sense of the ancient practice.  The spiritual practice of fasting typically involved not eating while the sun was up (in some cultures there is a ritual of a feast in the evenings).  In place of worrying about our physical needs, we focus on our spiritual needs.  Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see people who have given up Starbucks or chocolate I see that their lamenting is focused on Starbucks or chocolate.  Thus the point is lost.

source: foodworldnews.com

source: foodworldnews.com

If the intention of giving something up is to get closer to Christ and go deeper in our faith, than shouldn’t we focus on that?  Our church this Lenten season gave out a book to our church goers. For each week of Lent it introduces a different spiritual practice.  For some it could be the first time they have heard about this practice.

Focusing on our spiritual needs provides us a time to consider how we are living our lives.  Do our actions and words reflect our faith?  Are we striving towards perfection?  One of my students in my youth group decided to give up being mean. Another wants to give up “gossipy stuff.”  Cutting ourselves off from negative behaviors and putting a focus on positive, or holy, living, is a good use of our Lent.

So, how’s Lent going for  you?

2 Comments

  1. Jason, I enjoyed your blog. I’m not looking to get into a debate here, but I am seeking clarification on your thoughts. Would you say that giving up being mean or gossip really fasting? Yes it’s an excellent spiritual practice, but isn’t that what we are supposed to do anyway? It seems like the point of your blog is, if we fast from something and don’t grow in our relationship with Jesus then what is the point. I agree with you there. But fasting inherently means temporarily ceasing to do some thing. So they are temporarily ceasing to be mean. Again I know your point is they are building spiritual disciplines, but IF we fast in a way that points us towards Jesus then it WILL change our behavior. Because the more time we spend with Jesus the more sanctified we become. Just a thought and I would love to hear your response.

    • Jason C. Stanley

      March 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      David, I think your questions articulate and illustrate what I’m thinking. I agree things like being mean and gossiping are indeed things we not should be doing on an ongoing basis, all a part of striving towards perfection, or living a holy life. Bad habits are hard to break. For adolescents this provides an opportunity to start thinking differently about their behaviors/actions, etc And I agree that fasting is a temporarily ceasing of something. I think we loose focus on why we are fasting, when we zone in on not doing it. The question I ponder is if we are not going to fast in the true since of it, why don’t we focus on our spiritual practices,and focus on our relationship with Jesus.

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