Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Giving up something for Lent

This weekend I read a short little work by the late Henri Nouwen entitled In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership. Nouwen uses the temptation of Christ to explore three temptations that all leaders face: the temptation to be relevant, spectacular, and powerful. In each instance, he suggests giving up the pursuit of these things for something far more difficult, the pursuit of Christ.

He puts it best in the section on power: "Power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. it seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. Jesus asks, 'Do you love me?' We ask, 'Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in the Kingdom?' (Matthew 20:21)."

We often speak of giving something up for Lent, a practice that has a rich tradition in the greater Christian community. But let us never forget, we give something up not just to give something up, but for the distinct purpose of taking an even more difficult something up - the pursuit of Christ and his way of love.

If you give something up this Lent, let it be something that strikes to the heart of our self-centered pursuits of relevancy, fame, and power, that you may more freely seek Christ.

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