These early days of Lent can feel like the first week of the new year. Some of us have already failed our resolution, whether it be fasting from something or adding a spiritual discipline. Some of us are pressing on, but feeling the sacrifice. Plenty of us are carrying on with life as we would regardless of Lent.
Lent is more than a spring version of trying to amend our habits. While self-improvement is good at any time of the year, Lent has a higher purpose than being fitter or eating better or doing more (or less).
Jesus wasn't led into the wilderness so he could look better in his tunic or even so he could feel holier for a period of time. He was out there being refined by the experience. He was both demonstrating his obedience and growing in it. Ultimately, Jesus' 40 days of fasting weren't about himself. They were about God.
Look at the devil's temptations (Matthew 4:1-11) - they are an attempt to make life all about Jesus. The devil's temptations are familiar: you do something; you be something; you own something. Jesus' responses are unfamiliar: listen to God's word; don't test God; worship God.
I hope we'll be healthier, happier, and holier as a result of Lent, but, if we are, that's a secondary benefit - yet another grace from God. The primary purpose is that God is honored.
Join us in honoring God this Sunday as we hear from Rev. Campbell in the sanctuary services and Rev. Cattenhead in The Well. Both will base their messages on the temptation story (Matthew 4:1-11).