I have one reason alone: by myself, and in myself, I am not strong enough to ensure that the kingdom vision of the gospel remains the most formative truth in my life. I’m dead serious about this–I can’t do it. I need help and that help must come not simply from friends but from Christian sisters and brothers, and it must come from them in the context of a worshipping community who have chosen to intentionally order their (our) lives around the story of God.
Evangelicals are learning to face some new realities about the gospel’s encounter with contemporary culture. The church exists for the purpose of proclaiming the truth of the Christian gospel–that reconciliation with God is possible through Christ. As God’s missional community, we are to embody that truth we pursue the various callings God has given to us (father, mother, husband, wife, etc). We are also to verbally communicate that message as God gives us opportunity to do so through organic, authentic, respectful conversation. As a result we live with a tension in deciding which parts of our message and faith are culturally-conditioned.
I have come to love Lent–in fact to view it as a significantly overlooked gift–because it provides a period of focus and, perhaps ironically, of freedom. Most associate Lent with refraining from something. Some associate it with adding a practice, perhaps as a substitute for the thing given up. This practice is almost always popularly depicted as a miserable, punitive experience.