“We live in a world of evaluations, assessments, and measurements, but Jesus turns his gaze deeper because he knows that what is measurable can be faked.” ~ Scot McKnight
This is one of the things that has always been worrisome for me regarding Lent. For years, I have been helping young people try to decide what they were going to do and not do during Lent. I tried to help them see the deeper reality of the season. As I did so, I always remembered my own youth.
McKnight reminds us that evaluations, assessments, and measurements can be faked. That cannot ring any truer in regard to Lenten “sacrifices”. How many times did I “give up” something for Lent? Often, it was something that I didn’t really care about. Even if it were something I cared about, I would always have my mind made up about what I would substitute so that the giving up was not really a sacrifice anyway.
Lent can easily be faked. We could do all sorts of positive good and give up all sorts of desired things without making an iota of progress in our spiritual lives. That is why Jesus asks us to turn our gaze deeper, just as He does, so that we can see the interior of our hearts and souls.
Our actions have to reflect our desires. Our passion for the Lord should be at the front of our decisions. What we give up, what we add, should not be something for all to see and cheer. If so, we have already been rewarded. In that regard, Lent is a very interior experience.
Yes, the Church couples that interior with all sorts of exterior rules and regulations. It does so because it knows that the people of God need help and guidance along the way. But the rules and regulations of the season are not the be-all and end-all of the season. The rules and regulations should help us to change deep within, in areas unseen by others.
It’s okay to employ those evaluations, assessments, and measurements or, as I call them, the rules and regulations. They are things that live on the surface of our lives. However, they should be employed so that, in the depths of our souls, we can encounter Jesus in a more meaningful reality.
FAITH ACTION: Live as authentic a Christian life today as you possibly can. Do it for yourself. Do it for the Lord.