Why Observe Lent?

For me, the main purpose of observing Lent is that it is a season of intentionally imposed discipleship when I focus on living a cruciform life. When the Gospel is of first importance to you and Christ is formed in you (1 Corinthians 15, Galatians 4:19),  then your life takes on the shape of the cross. You begin to live the vertical life of loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and you begin to live the horizontal life of loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).

I fear, as Dallas Willard has said, we’ve made Christianity, “More a view of the Gospel that gets one ready to die but provides one unprepared on how to live now with purpose…More about sin management than what I believe it really is: a wholistic answer for everything that allows us to live an abundant life because we know who we are, because we have discovered who He is.”  Lent is a time to focus on who He is and what He has done for us in a more intense and disciplined way.  Lent teaches us to live in the shadow of the cross and the radiant light of the empty tomb. We learn to die to self and rise in Christ.

Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Resurrection Sunday, is a time of reflection. During this time, many choose to give something up, mirroring Jesus’ 40 day fast in the desert, or to take on a loving action that is new and challenging for them.  

This year for Lent, I encourage you to consider either giving or picking  something up. Engaging in something new outside of my normal routine encourages me to shift my perspective away from myself and to a new way to serve the Kingdom.  In light of the invasion of Ukraine, I’m personally committing for the next 40 days to tell someone every day about our opportunity to save children being displaced from the conflict. Through OneHope partnerships with local churches in the region, we have the opportunity to get orphans, children, and moms to safety, and share the Good News with those who are vulnerable. 

The season of Lent is also the perfect opportunity to participate in the spiritual discipline of fasting. For some, giving something up for Lent doesn’t necessarily mean fasting from certain foods. Some people give up social media, frivolous spending, watching more than an hour of TV, etc. By crucifying our appetite for food, or any other habit, we cultivate our hunger and thirst for Jesus and also force ourselves to spend time acting on behalf of others. 

This is why I believe Lent is a crucial season. Though many of us often skip straight to Easter, there is beauty in feeling the weight of the cross before celebrating the freedom of the resurrection. 

I encourage you to think about what you could fast from or what act of love you could concentrate on,  and how you can take additional time to focus on God’s Word, His Goodness, and His Grace.

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Rob Hoskins is the president of OneHope. Since taking leadership of OneHope in 2004, he has continued to advance the vision of God’s Word. Every Child. by partnering with local churches to help reach more than 2 BILLION children and youth worldwide with a contextualized presentation of God’s Word.

2 thoughts on “Why Observe Lent?

  1. I really appreciate your suggestions for observing Lent. I regret that the church I attend does not really think much about Lent, although we do have Communion every Sunday. I am puzzled that you would refer to the day that Jesus arose from the dead as “Easter” since that word does not appear anywhere in the Holy Bible.
    I did some research online years ago regarding “Easter” to discover that it was completely pagan in origin. It seems that bunnies loved to nurse at the multiple breasts of a mythical Greek or Roman goddess! I regret that I did not copy that article. Later, I was no longer able to find it. That article explains where the custom of Easter bunnies and dying Easter eggs comes from. I loved these activities as a child, but really, there is NO biblical basis for them. the basis is completely pagan. I always say, “He is Risen !” on Resurrection Day.

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