WHAT IS LENT, OTHER THAN THINKING SOLEMN THOUGHTS ABOUT CHRIST’S SUFFERING AND MAYBE GIVING UP CHOCOLATE? ? Brennan Manning has some pertinent things to say in his book, The Furious Longing of God.

When preached purely, [God’s] Word exalts, frightens, shocks, and forces us to reassess our whole life. . . . The flashing spirit of Jesus Christ breaks new paths everywhere. His sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace, but a revolution. The gospel is not a children’s fairy tale, but rather a cutting-edge, rolling-thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit. 

You might need to read that paragraph again. He uses prickly words.

By entering human history, God has demolished all previous conceptions of who God is and what man is supposed to be. We are, suddenly, presented with a God who suffers crucifixion. This is not the God of the philosophers who speak with cool detachment about the Supreme Being. A Supreme Being would never allow spit on His face. . . .
The life He has planned for Christians is a life much like He lived. . . . He revealed a picture meant to include you and me. “Don’t weep for Me! JOIN me!”

How can we join Jesus in His sufferings for the world? I don’t think giving up chocolate would bring Him much comfort. I’m asking a serious question here: How is MY life patterned after His?

  • I’m trying to worship and pray deeply. Do a fair job there.
  • I’m working on not complaining—even silently—about all the things I have to do and/or put up with. Hard.
  • Show joy through it all? D- grade here.

I have a long way to go, but just looking at the problems brings me closer to the Christ who suffered and is living in me.
The Apostle Paul says:

And now I am happy about my sufferings for you [Colossians], for by means of my physical sufferings I am helping to complete what still remains of Christ’s sufferings on behalf of his body, the church. Colossians 1:24

How about you? What does Lent mean in your life? Can you join with Christ in His sufferings for our hurting world?

Would love to hear your take on Lent, on the flaming God who put up with spit on his face. Can you find JOY in Lent? Read Hebrews 12:1-3, especially vs. 2.
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