Lent is more than just giving something up, it is an invitation to follow Jesus and become more like Him. Instead of asking ourselves, what should I give up this year? Pastor Aaron Damiani encourages us to ask the question, what is Christ’s invitation to me this year?
“There is a common misconception that Lent is about is about giving something up. I think it just puts the focus on the wrong thing right off the gate. Giving up things that are precious to us is a part of the journey, but it’s not the purpose of the journey.”
“We all need to know why we’re doing what we’re doing. The better question to begin with is, what is Christ’s invitation? How is He calling me to become like Him this year? What’s the vision that He is giving me?”
He refers to Jesus’ invitation to his followers in the gospels of Luke and Mark.
“Jesus has a conversation with His disciples a long the way to Jerusalem and He says, ‘I want you to take up your cross and follow me,’ (Luke 9:23), and they didn’t like that. They have a different vision for their life and for Jesus’ future.”
“What Jesus wants for them is He wants glory and resurrection His way, not the way that they’re thinking. He says, ‘you’re setting your mind on the things of man, not the things of God.’ (Mark 8:33).”
Pastor Damiani points out that many of us miss the things of God, because we can’t see them with our imaginations. During the Lenten season, we are encouraged to dig deep, search the scriptures, and ask God to lead us on the journey of knowing Him better.
“What things does Jesus value for His followers, for His sons and daughters? When we look at the scriptures, we see that He values intimacy with His sons and daughters; He values glory and transformation for sons and daughters, He wants us to take on His nature and become the image-bearers were meant to be.”
It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all formula on what may be beneficial to give up for 40 days. Pastor Damiani says if we aren’t sure of what Christ is inviting us to experience this year, our community may help to point us in the right direction.
“We can say, what do you see in my life that you think needs to change? Maybe it’s a habit, but maybe it’s also a deeper character issue; maybe there’s some controlling tendencies, maybe there’s an inner anxiety that has not been surrendered to the cross of Christ, so we really do need our communities as we discern kind of the next stage of growth in our Christian journey.”
Aaron Damiani is the lead pastor of Immanuel Anglican Church in Chicago. Aaron holds a B.A. in Pastoral Theology from Moody Bible Institute and an M.A. in Biblical Exegesis from Wheaton College Graduate School. He is author of the book .An invitation to Lent