Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Not Giving Up for Lent


The temple in Jerusalem.
Have you ever imagined it?
The gold, the tapestries and furs. Candlelight diffused into partial darkness, a table spread every day with new bread, and all the time the haunting knowledge that, just in the next room, GOD IS.

Right there.
The Presence between the cherubim.

Now, switch gears for a minute and think of yourself.
Your very own body.
God's new temple.

Now, stop it.
Stop shuffling and bowing your head and saying, "Aw, shucks. I'm not so much..."
You are. God said so.

On that day, you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in Me and I am in you.--John 14:20
Those who obey His commands live in Him and He in them.--1John 3:24

 You are the new temple. Me, too.
As beautiful as the old one--silver, gold, and fine linen.

But the old temple didn't last. Enemies of God destroyed it.
Defiled, the sanctuary stripped, the precious metals stolen, the decorations destroyed.
Well, destruction comes to our temple, too. It, too, is stripped and desecrated.
And we all know what does it. We all know what causes our own ruin.
We do. Me. Us. Our sin. Mine and yours.
When we sin, our temple looks just as miserable as the Hebrews'.
And today, on Ash Wednesday, I remind myself that I am dust as a result.
Dust. Just like the destroyed temple.

But the Jewish temple didn't stay that way and I don't have to, either.
In 167 BC, Judas Maccabeus amassed an army determined to take back the temple and, after seven years of battle, they did it.
But, here's the point:  He didn't do it by giving anything up or sitting idly by, waiting for the Lord to do something.
He took back his temple by fighting for it.
He didn't only deny himself stuff or fast for it or just pray for it. He picked up his sword and fought for what belonged to both God and His people.

That is what Lent is for.
Lent is our time to take back our temple.
And just giving up stuff will not help. Denying myself Oreos or NCIS will not do it unless it was cookies or television that defiled me in the first place. Eating fish will not help unless prime rib was the agent of sin. We will have to fight for the restoration of our temple, just like the Maccabees did. We will have to use offensive weapons, not defensive ones.
We have to use Lent to kick out the invaders in our own bodies that have caused us to sin.

Let us restore the decayed state of our people and let us fight for our people and the sanctuary.--1Maccabees 3:43

Lent is when we retake our own sanctuary and restore it to its Owner.
Lent is when we restore ourselves for God.

God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.--Colossians 1:27


  1. "Lent is when we restore ourselves for God." That will preach! Great post!

    1. Thanks, Holly. Lent can be such a blessed time of renewal. So glad for your encouragement.

  2. I agree with what you said, but I also find that restricting what I eat, wear, buy, waste, take in through media, etc. can restore be to communion with God. So I find fasting during Lent a wonderful option and practice - one that gives me focus and brings be back to my first Love.

    Have a blessed weekend.

    1. You are absolutely right. In fact, I too am fasting during Lent, and the fast, for me, is a fight in itself, a fight to regain the territory lost to Satan in my life. This fast is not a passive activity, and I imagine that yours isn't, either. Thanks so much for your enlightening reply. Have a blessed Lenten journey.

  3. WOnderful reminder - Lent is our time to take back our temple!

    1. Isn't it great to know that God is so glad to live in the temple we prepare for Him? Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. I don't come from a "Lent" background. This post encourages a very real, active dimension to a practice that I had viewed as rather passive. And as Jill points out, I can see that even fasting from a single thing can be a fight... or at least a strategy IN the fight.
    Thank you for this perspective!

    1. A strategy in the fight. Yes, that's it. There is strong argument, I think, for the keeping of the liturgical 'signs and seasons' properly. Lent is a good example. Thanks for your fresh perspective, Janice.