So…I’m an evangelical Christian celebrating Lent. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I feel like we may have thrown out the baby with the bath water in Christian liturgy and symbolism.
I totally understand how we must be careful not let the traditions of men steal the truth of the Word. However, in studying Christian history it is interesting to see how different seasons and observances came to be. For instance, did you know that lent as an established discipline has been around since before The Council of Nicea?(325 AD)
One of the first ideas established about Lent, (and the only one I’ll be writing about today) is that it was a fast endured by early converts before they were to be baptized. No easy believeism there. I’m sure those converts were pretty serious about their new life in Christ after having prepared their hearts with some type of forty day fast. The idea here was to remind the believer that they were to die to self and be raised up again with Christ. Many times baptisms were done on or near Easter, so that the converts identified with the death, and burial of Christ in their fast and the resurrection of Christ through the celebration of Easter.
Some times I think we make it too easy to “get saved”. “Just say a prayer”, we hear ourselves say. “It’s a free gift.” This is true. No amount of fasting or dunking or good works can earn salvation. However, when we use symbolism, like baptism and the Lord’s Supper, we bring Christianity from belief to experience. Particularly when we come to these observances with respect. Should we stop doing these things because we are afraid that they won’t mean anything anymore? Perhaps the even greater fear is that people will begin to put their trust in the symbolic acts instead of in Christ.
I know that Lent is not mentioned in the Bible, but fasting is. And Lent was established by a very early church, a church that only a few generations previously walked with the Lord.
What are your ideas on rituals and church?