Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.
At a Baptist university, it’s unlikely to find too many participants in the traditionally Catholic observance of Lent.
It seems more and more, most Protestants steer clear of things considered “religious,” in lieu of a more “relational” form of Christianity. While this is generally a positive shift, something is to be learned through a season of practiced sacrifice and devotion.
From the days of the early church, believers have participated in some kind of fasting and preparation leading up to the observance and celebration of Easter.
Today’s Lenten practices vary. Some give up meat on Fridays, while others stay away from caffeine, sweets or a variety of other things to show devotion.
But the meaning of the practice is not merely in the discipline of abstinence.
For Christians, Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection should be the pinnacles of their faith, and the days marking those events ought to be approached with reverence.
Record Easter Sunday church attendance reveals that many would agree, but shouldn’t the day be marked by more than a nice outfit and an after-service egg hunt?
The 40 days of Lent are a time of reflection on the enormity of what the Christian faith is all about. Whether Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian or any other denomination, this deserves recognition.
In depriving themselves, believers can focus their attention on the suffering of Christ, and in some small way, through the physical yearning and prayer, relate to it.
With the season beginning on the symbolic Ash Wednesday, it is also a time of recognizing our humanity.
This is, perhaps, the most significant way believers can observe the Easter holiday, and something all can benefit from taking the time to do.
Because of man’s sin, Christ suffered. Though Lent is not intended to be a time marked by guilt, remembering this fast should evoke a posture of gratitude in a Christian’s life, as each one celebrates the death and resurrection.
Humility and thankfulness are two of the greatest benefits of the 40 days of preparation. Without them, Easter can’t be fully appreciated.
Some may see Lent as just an outdated religious practice, unnecessary for a Christian life, and others may only view it as a physical struggle to be endured.
But in taking the time to understand the deeper meaning, those from all walks might just realize its advantages.
In modern Christian culture, “religion” often gets a bad rap. But like most rules, there are always exceptions, and in this case, Lent just may be that exception.
If the heart behind the season is a reverence for Christ, why should non-Catholic believers shy away?
This is something we could all stand to practice for at least 40 days out of the year.