There are two major themes of the Lenten season and they are the same themes that Jesus taught throughout His ministry; repent and believe. These same lessons are meant to be a part of every day we live. They come into focus during the Lenten season when we are preparing our hearts for believing in the greatest miracle of love the world has ever known.
God asks us to REPENT because He loves. He doesn’t require that we repent of every minor offense that we have committed. He knows we cannot even see how deeply sinful we are. Even when we are being good, we are not purely good, perhaps seeking a little too much glory for ourselves. Only God knows the true truth depths of our sins (Jeremiah 17:9). He simply asks that we look at His holiness and recognize how impossible it is for us to look at His purity without accepting that our true impurity is far beyond what we can even see. When He calls us to repentance, it is purely out of His love for us.
Let us never lose sight of the love of God in the act of repentance. Romans 2:4 says,
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
Without repentance we would not know what it means to have the love we are longing for in our lives.
This brings me to the other focus of the Lenten season and Jesus’ entire ministry—BELIEVE. Believe in a love that is greater, more real, completely transforming and unlike any other love in the world. There is no better way to see the immense love of God displayed than in the message of Easter. Walk with Jesus during Holy Week and you will watch and learn how to love your enemies. You will not avoid them, condemn them or get back at them; rather you will tell them about God’s love and answer their accusations with wisdom. You will see how love does not become prideful when the whole world falls in love with you. Rather, you will divert that love to the glory of the Father. You will love bringing glory to the Name of God more than any glory you bring on yourself. You will enjoy intimate, tender moments hanging out with your good friends. You will care for the needs of your friends by making sure they don’t miss the most beloved holiday of the year. You will be their host and cater to their every need, down to the washing of their feet yourself. You will accept the betrayal with a kiss and the denial of knowing you as individual choices you left up to them for love.
That is a high standard of love for sure. I doubt I will ever come close to loving like Jesus. I get a little cranky around my enemies, and it is still hard for me to remember to be extra kind to them. I don’t notice when I am taking the glory meant for God onto myself until the Holy Spirit shows me. There’s nothing better in my life these days than an intimate dinner with friends talking about the love God has for us. I feel right with the world when I am in these settings. I do entertain, but never wash the feet of my guests. I rant when I’m betrayed or denied and want to control others rather than leave the choices up to them.
Love is Holy Week.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).