Everyone loves a good detox, especially after the excesses of the annual – Christian? – Christmas over-indulgence. For contemporary, detox-addicted Christians, Lent is a sort of spiritual dryathalon. Go for a month without some small luxury – what are you giving up, anyway? – as you prepare to celebrate the resurrection, rolling eggs down hills and other empty symbols.
That’s right, folks! The annual 40-day fast, held by Christians since the 4th Century, starts tomorrow. #thatsucks But then, today is “Pancake Day” – so use up all them eggs, sugar and mmm… buttery goodnesses. #woohoo
That’s just the first paradox Lent throws us – before we fast, we must completely finish our feast; just to be sure we waste nothing. Ah, so it’s a fast with no real cost? I’m sure God designed thriftiness as a feature of the spiritual exercise of fasting. I wonder was there ever a committee testing slogans like, “Shrove Tuesday: Prepare to spiritually thrive without wasting a penny!”
There are a lot of problems with Lent. Over the next 40 days I’ll try to highlight some of them in a series of devotionals. Why? I want you to know (deep down in your chocolate-craving soul) that ritualised Christianity doesn’t even come close to the splendid good news about Jesus.
If you really think abstinence is a detox – that you’ll be purer for abstaining – remember Jesus told us:
“Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.”
Good luck giving up sin for the next month – hope you don’t try to get it all out of your system today!