During my years at North American Baptist College (formerly Taylor University College - now defunct) in Edmonton I was introduced to the ancient Christian tradition known as Lent. For those of you who may not be aware of what Lent is, I would encourage you to do some personal research on the subject.
But, for the purposes of this blog...here is the condensed "JayFrizz" version of the season in plain English: There are traditionally forty days in Lent which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and generosity (justice towards neighbour).
What is key in understanding the Lent season is that it is a precursor to the celebration of Easter (the death & resurrection of Jesus Christ). The original intent for the Lent season was to provide the believer with a yearly opportunity to grow in one's commitment to Christ. But, as with all good intentions, what is meant for good can sometimes do more harm. What I mean is that if our focus during the Lent season is centered around practices and habits, and we do not engage our heart in these exercises...then our actions do not have any merit or any life-changing impact for ourselves. Lent under these circumstances just becomes another thing we do to to make us feel like we're being a "good Christian."
I watched my college peers gobble up this opportunity to earn "spiritual points" in the eyes of the professors. Girls were giving up eating sugar in the name of Jesus, while guys were making outrageous commits in an effort to gain leadership credibility with members of the opposite sex. In this all I learned one very valuable lesson: Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
No matter what we do, we may be able to disguise our motives from our peers, but not from our Creator. This Lent season, I encourage you to consider what it means for you to grow in your personal commitment to Christ. Stay connected; stay grounded and stay focused. May Christ be the center of all you do, and may your inspiration, motivation and desire be rooted in Him.