By Brooke Holt
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Today is a high and holy day in the life of the church – Ash Wednesday – and it is the invitation to be reconciled to God. Yes, every day is an invitation to be reconciled to God, but the church sets this day apart as a day for fasting. Many Christians go to church and receive the sign of the cross marked with ashes upon their forehead while they hear these words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19, cited in the Book of Common Prayer, Ash Wednesday, p. 265).
Why would someone choose to fast when we have such an abundance of food available to us? Fasting is an opportunity to deny the desires of the flesh so that one may be more attentive to the way of the Spirit. No, it is not fun, but removing some of the earthly comforts you enjoy allows you to recognize ways in which you choose comfort over holiness (sin instead of obedience). This time of denial is designed to create a hunger within you not for the things of the world but for the things of the Lord – the fruit of the Spirit, justice, love, holiness, healing, etc.
Paul writes to the church in Corinth to remind them and you that Jesus denied the desires of his flesh all the way to the cross. There, he took on your sin so that you could then receive his righteousness – a holy exchange! If Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was willing to suffer death on a cross for you, are you willing to give up those earthly things that distract you from him? I don’t know what those things are for you, but you do. Scrolling through Facebook can replace your time of reading the Bible; Sunday Pickleball or golf can replace your time of worship; a belly that is always full can allow you to forget the starving people throughout the world or right around the corner from your workplace.
What would it look like for you to fast from those things for the next 40 days that you might be reconciled to Christ and to the body of Christ? That is the call of Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent – to allow the Holy Spirit to search you, to know you, and to convict you of the ways in which you are satisfying your fleshly appetites and missing the heart of God.
Will you take this season to be searched, known, and convicted? Jesus paid the price for your every sin and offers you his righteousness. May this Lenten season be one in which you grow daily in that righteousness as you release the things of this world.
How is God calling you to fast today and throughout this Lenten season? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Crucified Life small group Christian study is designed to reflect upon the Seven Last Words of Christ from the cross and what they mean for us today. Walk the road of Calvary with Jesus in order to grow closer to Him. The Crucified Life small group study examines human suffering as it is mirrored in Christ’s suffering on the cross and what His seven last words say to a hurting world. Find out incredible insights into these words as Jesus teaches us, even in death, how we can use our suffering and triumph over it for His glory. Begin your Crucified Life today.
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