Saturday, February 25, 2012

on Lent

This is a great piece written by pastor Toby Sumpter. I am sharing part of it here in case you don't have time to go read the full thing, but you really SHOULD go read it. :)

"If you plan to fast during Lent, do not kid yourself into thinking that fasting is the same thing as suffering for Jesus. Just because the pastor said that Lent is dangerous doesn’t mean you’re being a great risk taker by abstaining from chocolate or coffee or beer. Do not come up here and take the sign of the cross upon your forehead and pat yourself on the back and say that you have somehow done something courageous for Jesus. The point of abstaining, the point of taking the cross upon your brow, the point of prayer and fasting, the point of all this must be evangelistic, inviting the gospel to fill our lives, our families, our communities. The point is to make time to pray for the lost, to love the lost, to invite the lost and the hurting into our homes, and to share life with the lost and dying in our community. Abstaining from something is not the mark of Christ, but if you give yourself to heart-aching prayer for your neighbors, you have begun to be a disciple. If you plead with an unbelieving loved one to submit to Christ, the word of the Lord is going forth. If you graciously confront your roommate for obvious sin and folly, realizing that you may lose or strain a friendship, you are beginning to be a disciple. If you love your wife like Christ loved the church, and give yourself away for her more and more sacrificially, you are beginning to be a disciple.

And if you fast, let your fasting and prayer be toward particular ends, particular needs, particular hurts, not vague feelings. Fasting does not benefit us. Fasting is a bodily posture. Just as you might kneel or lift your hands in prayer, so too fasting is a posture of humility and urgency. Some of you need to learn to fast and pray. You might dedicate one day a week, one meal a week, you might do it individually, or as a family. But the point is not for a show of piety, the point is not to harness some mystical power. The point is to cry out to God. Peter says that humility is evidenced in casting all our cares upon the God who cares for us. Some of you need to cry out to God because you haven’t been. Some of you need to cry out to God because you’ve been carrying all your cares yourself, because you are weighed down with burdens and stress and fear and unbelief. Use this season of Lent to repent. Set aside time to pray, to pour out your heart to the Lord. And pray it out. Pray until it’s all out. Pray your cares on to the God who cares for you."

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