Friday, March 2, 2012

The Chocolate Fallacy of Lent

Lent ... the season when people think that giving up chocolate is their glorious way of showing the world that they're honoring Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

Pardon the venting session, but I'm sick of hearing about it, and nothing irks me more than a careless chuckle from a person who admits that they're dying for chocolate because they've given it up for LENT. I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in America, it's a reflection of our paunchy-gut-centered society, where people are so well off that the biggest sacrifice they can think of ... is chocolate.


I mean it. If you've given up chocolate for Lent, you are nothing more than a spiritual INFANT.

I know I'm not going to make many friends with this post, but I want you to think about something -- really think about it:

Lent isn't about checking off a sacrificial list so that you can feel good about waking up on Easter morning and indulging in Cadbury chocolate eggs.

Lent is about remembrance. And it's not a requirement of Scripture, but it's something we do in preparation for dwelling on the meaning of the cross as we mark the celebration of the Resurrection.

If you really want to make Lent meaningful for yourself, think about the types of sacrifices that Jesus made. Let's see, do you really think you could match those? Of course not, but just humor me here:

1) Forgiveness. Think about it. Forgiveness is a sacrifice, because you are sacrificing your right to be affronted at someone wronging you. As Jesus was dying, He asked God to forgive those who had just tortured Him and left Him hanging to die in agony. What if, during this Lenten season, you made a commitment to forgive people who have really hurt you? I know we're supposed to do this as a matter of course. But what better time of year than this to reflect on wrongs, great and small, and sacrifice your right to feel angry about them? What better time to work on the act of forgiveness -- allowing God to heal your heart so that if that person ever approached you and said, "I'm sorry," you'd embrace them with open arms?

2) Giving. Jesus gave everything -- His life. What if, during Lent, you made a sacrifice to give of your financial resources I mean, REALLY GIVE? No? Sound too hard? What about people in the world who don't have Bibles, food, shelter? Do you think Jesus died for them? If you want to honor His sacrifice by giving up something this Lenten season, why not cough up a little more to help your fellow neighbor?

3) Sacrificing your time. Before Jesus died, His last act was to pray in the Garden. Yes, we're supposed to pray every day to build up our relationship with God. But have you ever sacrificed your TIME in order to intensely pray to God? We know that in our American society, time is of the essence. Giving up your time is indeed a a sacrifice, in our Puritanical mindset. What if, during Lent, you gave up more of your time during the day to pray? Or volunteer? How would you view Jesus's sacrifice if during His prayer in the Garden, He said, "I'm really bummed that I'm going to die, because it means I won't have the extra time on earth to do the things I wanted to do?" Yeah. Pretty self-centered, huh? What if you took your time and gave it to God and to your fellow man, instead of thinking about how you'd use it to fulfill your needs?

This is just to get you started. I'm sure you can think of more things you can sacrifice.

And if I still haven't convinced you, I encourage you to watch "The Passion of the Christ." After you take that trip back in time to the day Jesus was tortured and murdered, think about whether giving up chocolate is what you really want to do this Lenten Season.


  1. Fresh water to a parched world! Sacrifice is about giving everything over to the Lord, everything that we hold dear, every single day of our Christian lives. Amen sister!

  2. I totally agree with you, Heidi. A lot of us in the United States don't really know the meaning of the word "Sacrifice". I've been reading a couple of biographies about some missionaries like Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, and William about being humbled. Talk about being convicted! Or, if you really want to get into things, read about the Persecuted Church. Now there's a touchy subject in American Christendom! I would recommend "Tortured for Christ" by Richard Wurmbrand as a start, and "Jesus Freaks" by DC Talk and Voice of the Martyrs. Lord, give us radical discipleship, even when it makes us uncomfortable. "To die is gain".