I wrote this originally back in 2011 – it is interesting to see how my thinking has and hasn’t changed!
I love people. God. Food. Drink. Technology. Books. All sorts of things.
I seriously dislike religion. Religion is nearly always bad, usually a right pain in the ass, and often makes you do things you don’t want to.
So, Lent has begun. We have eaten pancakes, painted ash crosses on our faces, and chosen our things to give up. I haven’t. I did not even eat any pancakes this year (though this was less out of principle and more out of a lack of kitchen and a prior commitment!). I respect people doing Lent, but only due to their diligence. The mere mechanical observation is essentially pointless.
If you are a Christian, and you give something up, all you are proving is that you need structure to give things up, and that you don’t trust God to give you the strength to give things up at any time. It looks weird. It looks religious. It is kind of pointless. And it is just frustrating.
If you are a non-Christian, then you honestly don’t have to celebrate Lent! The only point of it is to give something up so that you can get closer to God. So, if that is why you are doing it, then that is maybe good, but overall, it is rather pointless. Lent is just another outdated religious festival.
Don’t get me wrong, I love holidays. I love Easter. Christmas. Pentecost. Harvest. Weddings. I think it is really important to celebrate good things, and to appreciate what God has done.
But really, giving up something without a reason is pointless. God is not more pleased with you if you celebrate Lent. It is a non-biblical, effectively pointless religious festival. YES there are periods of 40 days in the Bible, and YES there is an echo with Jesus temptation in the Desert, but that is it, just an echo. No commandment. No instituted thing. Just an invention. Jesus made it very clear what he wanted from us – to live radically and tell people the good news of his life, death and resurrection. Lent is not mentioned.
Sometimes, I give something up, because I feel it is unnecessary, or getting in the way of my relationship with God. And that is because, by God’s Grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I am constantly in his love. It’s amazing. You cannot fall out of God’s Grace, and you cannot earn any more of it.
Don’t worry about Lent. Be free from religion. Live in radical, resurrection life with Jesus, under the Father’s Gracious Love, and the power and joy of the Holy Spirit.