It’s the perennial question for Christians (and others) during the 40 days season preceding Easter. What are you giving up? It’s like a second chance at a forty day New Year’s Resolution. Lent seems doable because it’s short and sweet.
Lent, following in the footsteps of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, has evolved into a season of self-denial. In order to remain focused on Christ’s suffering and ministry, we discard pleasures from our own lives. These self-indulgences often obscure our ability to focus on what’s really important about our faith journey. By giving up chocolate, social media, sex, or soft drinks; we’ve come to believe we’re doing something tangible for our spiritual lives.
That’s the conventional wisdom. I’m not sure how we got it in our heads that God cares if we eat candy or stop posting snarky memes for 40 days. We honestly believe we will get a little closer to God by rejecting the silly minutiae of our mundane middle class lives. Mastering will power isn’t good theology. It’s what made Tony Robbins rich. We forget God also has Syria to worry about. Like changing a national health care system, being religious is suddenly more complicated than we first imagined.
Our hope is that we will feel better about ourselves if we think God is impressed with our acts of physical devotion. Why else talk about what you’re giving up? Why do anything at all? We want cool points with the man upstairs. It’s also nice to look holy among your church friends.
I’m not sure it works that way. I could be wrong. That’s why I’ve come up with a list of things to “give up” for the six weeks of Lent. Why not put some skin in the game? Let’s give up ideas that mean something. Give till it hurts.
These are solely my suggestions. Remember, Lent isn’t forever. Perhaps try a Lent without:
- Organized Religion (Embrace Disorganization)
- The Devil
- Original Sin