Is now the time to ignore Christ's sacrifice for us?
Lent Is So Last Century!
Lent is the period of 40 days leading up to Easter. It is marked by the physical and spiritual discipline of Christians, in honor of Our Savior’s fasting during His 40 days in the desert before beginning His ministry.
This is also a time of repentance for sins.
But who needs repentance? Sin is so medieval!
Yet God is still calling all of us to turn away from evil. He wants so very much for us to return to Him and be prompted by the terrible suffering His Son endured in order to save us from Satan.
Christ’s sacrifice opened the gates of Heaven for us – if we choose to go through them.
But Satan doesn't exist anymore, and sacrifice is such an old-fashioned practice. Fasting and repentance are thoroughly antiquated.
I’m a basically good person: if God exists and really loves me, He’ll accept me as I am and let me into Heaven.
God does love all of us. But only those who love Him in return can enter Heaven.
Whereas He loves the sinner, God hates our rebellion against His commandments. Just because popular thought has done away with God, doesn’t mean He has disappeared!
We’re certainly free to banish Him from our lives. But we mustn’t be surprised when He honors our wish and banishes us in return.
God is the God of Mercy if we repent and ask for His mercy. But as the God of Justice, He will reward our refusal to acknowledge Him by refusing to acknowledge us in return.
Mercy is available to us in this lifetime. After we die, it is not. (Refer to earlier post)
A Life or Death Decision
He gives us the freedom to love Him or despise Him, to choose life or follow today’s culture of death, which laughs at the idea of God and His commandments.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
At the moment of death we will meet God and suddenly realize how desperately we want to be with Him. We’ll fully understand that we were made only for union with Him and will ache horribly to be allowed to stay in His presence.
But if we reject Him during our time on earth, He will honor our request and reject us. He is, after all, the God of Justice and we will go to Hell.
Hell is simply the absence of God and all goodness. It is a place of eternal loneliness, pain and suffering.
In the light of this truth, how appealing does today’s culture of death seem to you? Is it really worth taking the risk of not believing in God just because He’s 'not fashionable'?
Sin is Not Obsolete!
Only pure beings can enter Heaven: not those who sin and refuse to acknowledge they have done wrong.
Lent is a time for honest self-appraisal. This will lead us to understand our need to go to Confession and repent of our wrong-doing, begging for forgiveness with a contrite heart. Contrition means being truly sorry for turning our backs on our Creator, and sincerely trying not to sin again.
But we have to believe in sin in order to repent! This entails distancing ourselves from the world and its secular standards. Remember, we are called to be in the world but not of the world.
Holier Than Thou
It's hard not to feel like a goody two-shoes when you’re up against the everyday norms like ‘anything goes,’ ‘if it feels right, do it’ and ‘everything is relative.’
However, if we approach our task with humility – not a servile, underdog mentality, but with strong confidence in God – He will give us the strength to do what is right, even in the face of wrong thinking everywhere we turn.
We will often feel unequal to performing what we know in our hearts that God is asking of us. In that case we simply ask Christ to make up for our deficiencies - and He will.
As Christians we are called to bring souls to God. The best way to do that is by example.
If we do the right thing, others will respect us for it. Maybe begrudgingly, but their opinion is not what counts. What matters is that we have done as Jesus commands, and shown our neighbor the correct path.
Being Perfect Is Tough!
We are called to be ‘perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48). What a tall order! Who can claim to be perfect? And what is ‘perfection,’ anyway?
You can start with being joyful - by putting Jesus first, then Others then Yourself.
(Bear with me, even if you think this JOY mnemonic is trite!)
Whatever we may say, we all tend to put ourselves first. Lent is a timely reminder to rearrange our priorities – it is not a call to forget to take care of ourselves. Christ also got tired. He would rise early and go to a private place, away from everyone’s constant demands.
But note that he recharged His batteries by praying to His Father. He acknowledged that all His strength, all His wisdom to teach, came from God the Father. He took the time to converse in prayer with Him.
In other words, His way of taking care of Himself was to go to God. If we do the same thing, we’ll see that JOY is a circular process by which we put Jesus first and He helps us take care of others, then when we need to take care of ourselves we go to back to Jesus, and so it continues in a perfect circle.
So many people think they’ll get to Heaven because ‘they believe in Christ’ without giving any thought to what ‘believing in Christ’ means. "Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” http://biblehub.com/matthew/7-21.htm
Believing in Christ doesn’t just mean ‘I believe in Jesus Christ as a historical figure.’
‘Believing in Jesus’ means keeping His commandments, not breaking them and saying ‘I know You won’t mind, because I believe you existed, and that’s good enough for You.’
Believing in Christ means loving Him. And if you love someone – truly love them – you do as they ask. And you comply to make them happy, not necessarily because you agree with their request.
The same is true for God, except even more so. If we love Him we’ll keep His commandments, even if we don’t understand or like everything He asks of us. The key is obedience, not agreement!
God’s thoughts are way above ours. It is not our place to presume to be smarter than Him.
“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
How many times does He have to tell us this before it’s too late, and we find ourselves on ‘the wrong side of history’ forever?
The more old-fashioned, ridiculous and out-of-date Lent and Christianity seem to be, the more imperative it becomes for us to listen to God's Word and accept that we are sinners. Then we must ask for His help to get back on the narrow path to Heaven – ignoring the Prince of the World, who wants us to take the wide and easy path to perdition.
Don’t let Christ’s excruciating pain, endured to save you, be for nothing. Use this time of Lent to get closer to Him and help others to do the same.