Using L.E.N.T. in our discipleship
Many Christians all over the world today will begin observing the time between Jesus’ victorious temptation in the wilderness and His resurrection life on Easter commonly known as Lent.
Lent is not a biblical mandate or prescription, but a tradition and practice that has deep historical roots to many church traditions.
Like many extra-biblical traditions in church history, though started with good motives, Lent can become purely habitual, legalistic, or ritualistic unless we fight for the meaning and motives behind the original practice itself.
With that in mind, Lent began as a time for followers of Christ to mimic and imitate His life as observed between the crucial weeks of His temptation and resurrection.
Jesus walked through this world in those weeks in moral perfection even “being tempted in all the ways we were.”
Through direct devil engagement, challenge by the religious establishment, the death of His best friend, and the betrayal of His friends and family, Jesus loved and refused to give in to evil.
Jesus’ life during this 40-day window can be understood as acute and continual self-denial.
His death upon Calvary was not an “out of the blue” experience for our Savior, but a continuation of little daily deaths along the way. He lived a life of little deaths that culminated in his ultimate death.
“For the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
But death does not define Jesus during Lent, life does! Jesus’ daily deaths were an uncanny demonstration of death-seeking life.
Jesus’ life was a life of daily deaths in order to secure greater lasting life. He was in it to win it.
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:20-26)
As the Greeks came to see Jesus they were probably not ready for His response.
Jesus basically said to see Him was to see death. And if you are not prepared to see and be like death then you will not truly see Jesus.
Lent is embodying, embracing, and exuding death because that is God-like. To be like God is to become like Him in His death (Romans 6:5). But the goal is not death, it is life.
Therefore, use Lent to encourage and exemplify death in your life.
Die to self-autonomy so you can have good authority. Die to self-righteousness so you can have His imputed righteousness. Die to your idolatries of false gods so you can really have God. Die to certain foods, old habits, and sins so you can enjoy the Giver of Life.
Lent is not just death, but it is a practice of death-seeking life. Don’t mourn your loss this Lent season, celebrate your gain!
Every year there are small things in the calendar (religious or not) as a part of culture that we can use for our walk with God or helping others walk with God.
Lent is a great tradition to leverage to give yourself another opportunity to know Jesus and make Him known!
Hoping the below acrostic gives you some increased ideas on how to live more and more.
L – Letting go
What can you let go of?
Not that you have to, but you can choose to give up something for a season to remind you that in death is life.
Or, what do you need to let go of because it used to be “good,” but now it’s “God”?
Is it chocolate, social media, sports, clothes shopping, a hobby, an outlet…? It could be anything.
Remember, you don’t have to. You are not better or more deserving of grace if you do or if you don’t. But you might be seeking life quite possibly in a more explicit and strategic way.
E – Evangelistic emphasis
If Lent is commemorating Jesus’ death-walk to Calvary then we ought to use it as a special and concentrated time to pray and talk with others over the good news that Jesus’ death purchased for us.
Who could you begin praying for? Who could you invite over or get to know? Who could you begin to dialogue with over coffee breaks or lunches in hopes that Jesus’ death would result in life for them?
Ask God to save a friend, family-member, flatmate, or roommate in the next 40 days that would end in them attending church with you on Easter.
N – New Habits
Lent, like the new year, is a good time to recalibrate and re-evaluate our lives and really draw a line in the sand concerning our lives, decisions, and commitments.
What conviction and practice could be established by initiating a new habit?
Is it a Bible reading plan? Fasting? Could you start a scripture memory plan? How about involving people in your decision-making? Would you consider reading that book that has been on the shelf? How would friendships, family relationships, or ministry relationships look different if you only______?
Habits are crucial to putting feet and hands to our convictions.
T – Tithing/Temptation
What could you give to generously this Lent season? It may not be in the budget, but could you die and give sacrificially in a way that secures riches in heaven?
If Jesus said that money is a major pitfall of the damned, then it is wise that we loosen our hold on it and give it away so that we can really gain eternal life.
Remember the words of our Lord: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
What sin or temptation could you single out for the next 40 days? Is it pride, purity, unbelief, anger, bitterness, comparison? What steals joy and freedom of Jesus away from you? Do you deny it, downplay it, justify it, or blameshift?
Maybe it starts just by confessing it. Remember: be killing sin, or it will be killing you.