By Lance Mayes
Lent. Growing up Baptist, I was not too familiar with this practice. My Catholic friends would give up caffeine or chocolate, but I was never really sure why. I knew it had something to do with the weeks leading up to Easter.
I know a little more now. I have learned about Ash Wednesday and the practice of reflecting on repentance and mortality and the imposition of ashes. It is a reminder that we are all sinners.
We sometimes deal with sin in one of a couple of ways. We either suffer with incredible guilt or we just ignore that we are sinners.
Yes, we are all guilty; there is no getting around that. We can relate with the Psalmist: “For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.” However, we don’t have to wallow in guilt. Because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus our sin is washed away and we don’t have to bear the guilt any more.
On the other hand, sometimes it is easier to just forget that we are sinners. We have been made clean by Jesus and put it all behind us. But the fact remains that we are sinners who have been forgiven. We still stumble and fall. We do things we shouldn’t and don’t do things we should. We sin. We need to go to God and confess: “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight … Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. … Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.”
On this Ash Wednesday, let’s remember that we are sinners. We are mortal. We are without hope by ourselves. Our hope is in Jesus and our “God who saves.” God, “remove the stain of my guilt… restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.”
We can recognize our sin without keeping the guilt. We can have joy now because Jesus makes us all “whiter than snow.”
40 days of Lent. 40 days of reflection. 40 days of remembering. Use this season of Lent to grow closer to God. Take these 40 days and re-focus yourself to be more like Jesus and let God change your heart. Give something up if you want, but replace it with a spiritual discipline (something like prayer, Scripture reading, service or giving).
To learn more about Lent click here.