As February approaches, so does the season of Lent. That, and tax season, of course.
Before I continue discussing this, let me just say that I am profoundly grateful for my Judeo-Christian roots. I have been studying Jewish teaching and am profoundly indebted to the teaching of my Hebrew brethren. For example, the teaching of specialization that Rabbi Lapin points out, when Jacob gives the individual blessing to all twelve of his sons.
Yes! Praise God that the Jewish people are back in the land, a magnificent fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and that God grants salvation, “first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Rom. 1:16). So thankful that our Lord forged a people set apart for His purposes, to show the world His holiness (Isa. 43:20-21). In these latter times, when persecution is on the uptick among believers, and the church is being purified, more Jewish people than ever before are accepting Christ as their Saviour. We are returning to a similar situation as the Early Church, when Christ-followers did not conform to the mould of culture (Rom. 12:1-2).
This teaching of specialization falls in line with the New Testament doctrine of the whole church serving the entire body of Christ. In the fall of 2015, I preached a sermon on this. Basically, we all have areas of gifting as Christians, and are called to share those gifts for the benefit of the whole.
Now, moving to talking about Lent. In more recent times, many groups like the Baptists have not embraced this practice. However, like other “church calendar” items such as Advent, the Lenten season has been experiencing a revival.
All Lent is, really, is a time of reflection where one reflects on something that one can do without, in a build-up to Easter. The start date is Mardis-gras, or Shrove Tuesday, right before Ash Wednesday. It’s a time of celebration before a period of fasting.
But fasting doesn’t always have to mean doing without. We can give back. If “time is money,” aphorism goes, we can choose to do something extra during the Lenten season.
Better yet, we can resolve to adopt a lifestyle based on Lenten principles of doing without or doing something extra for Jesus in light of what He has already done for us, forgiving our sins on the cross. We can daily return to the gold-standard of God’s Word. It is a proven treasure trove to deepen our spirituality and connectedness to Christ.
The United States of America fully separated from the gold standard back in 1971. This meant that fiat currency, or money is now decreed to have value by the Treasury Board. Since then, while the U.S. has experienced times of prosperity, government debt has really become a problem. Same goes in Canada, although perhaps to a lesser degree. If I can liken my analogy to spiritual matters, we get closer to Jesus when we return to the true source of value in life, which is our Lord’s Word, and our relationship with others, believers and non-believers alike. The real stuff—like gold—is not found in the abundance of one’s possessions, but in rich friendships and connections formed with others (see Luke 12:15).