Updated: Jun 23
I woke up this morning with sacrifice on my heart. I heard the Lord say is sacrificing cheese really helping you draw close to me? I haven’t even given up cheese so I found it odd to wake up with this on my heart. I then remembered looking at Facebook this week at all the posts about Ash Wednesday and Lent. So many people posted about their “sacrifice” of cheese, chocolate, caffeine, bread etc… I have never truly practiced Lent unless God truly put something in my heart and I felt led to give up something during this time of year. So, I looked up the exact meaning of Lent and its purpose and “rules”.
Here is what I found: Lent. ... Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ's sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days and Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego. This event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Oriental Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic Churches. Thus, the rules for fasting and abstinence in the United States are: Every person 14 years or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent. And then I saw this…every person between the age of 18 and 59 (beginning of 60th year) must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
So my first thought is if you are over 60…go wild? You don’t have to do any of these things? It did give me a little chuckle, I must admit. Now, I am sure many denominations have different “rules” and things they have incorporated into the season of Lent but even growing up in the Baptist Church, I always seemed to live Outside of the Box, really I don’t think I ever had a box. Just sayin…
I also know that I have never been big on the word Religion. I am a Christian who has a relationship with God, servant to my Savior and lover of Jesus. There is a difference between religion and the religious. People can have a religious spirit in and out of denominational and non-denominational churches and ministries. No one is excluded.
Religious spirits influence someone to act self-righteous. Self-righteousness means being filled with or showing a conviction of being morally superior or more righteous than others. It is important to understand that to be influenced does not mean to be possessed, but rather simply means to be:
The disciples were outraged at the Samaritan’s actions and began to act self-righteous because the Samaritans were not receiving Jesus, their Lord, into the territory. There is a difference between self-righteousness and righteous indignation. Can you imagine being so self-righteous that you are willing to call down the fiery judgment of God on an entire city? That’s not normal behavior.
INFILTRATING THE CHURCH
The religious spirit did not disappear after the resurrection of Christ. In fact, the spirit of religion is an enemy that has always been around and is increasing its attacks against the Church. Believers need to understand the purpose of this spirit and why it is so dangerous. The mission of the religious spirit is to:
Infiltrate your life
Bind your freedom
Steal your liberty in the Holy Spirit
Stop your advancement
Ruin your true Christian witness
Buffet the progress of the Gospel
Corrupt your perception of Who Christ is
I say this because the religious spirit can be the operating in the one who just gives up cheese or chocolate for Lent. Never truly sacrificing to “replicate” what Jesus sacrificed for us. This is” just going through the routine” mentality and not a true heart of sacrifice. These little sacrifices don’t turn us back to God or “enlighten” us to draw closer, listen to His voice or even clear our path to see Him better etc…
These seem to be a “ritual” mentality…we say to ourselves “Ok, I did it, I sacrificed something for Lent, good for me, pat myself on the back, let me tell everyone what I did whitout etc…”
This is what the Word says about Fasting in Mathew 6:16-18…
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Now, letting go of anything that you are putting before God or anything that is keeping you from God is good. (but I wonder… is cheese or chocolate coming before God or keeping you from Him?) Furthermore, if we are going to fast, or give up something, why can’t we give up… Hatred, Unforgiveness, Bitterness, Rage, Cursing, Bullying, Revenge, Guilt, Shame, Selfishness, Self Centeredness etc…. and once we give these up for Lent, why not let them go entirely! Why pick up these negative emotions, actions, behaviors etc…. again?
What better people we would be! What a better world we would have! What a better love of people and ourselves would we have! What a better relationship with God we would have! What better everything…..
Give up something for Lent…yeah let’s give up all our baggage and negativity and live like the reflection of Jesus.
Live and Love Beyond the Noise, Above the Crowd, and Beyond Measure!
You Are Loved!