Why do you diet? When I was younger, a certain number (whether it was clothing size or poundage) was the goal. I had a friend who was so tiny and I just wanted to be like that. Small equated with beautiful. Now, it’s not about size or number, it’s about health and the ability to keep up with my grandkids.
Why do you give things up during Lent? I’m following a devotional guide that was published for 2006. It makes the days off a little. Like today’s was about Shrove Tuesday. I learned a few things. For example, this was the day that those observant Christians would clear out the cupboards of the foods “not permitted” during lent. Those would include fat (hence the name Fat Tuesday), eggs, meat, and milk. It was the day of celebrating before the more solemn time of confession, reflection, and preparation to receive the joy of Easter.
A few years ago there was quite a stir in the baseball town near me. Opening day was on Good Friday and good Christians who happen to be good Indian fans were in a quandary. How would they ever be able to enjoy a game without having a hot dog? Some went so far as to ask for special dispensation from the church. Isn’t that just like us?
We look at dieting as giving things up to get to a magical number, instead of what it is. Our diet is what we eat—all the time and every day. We either have a healthy diet or an unhealthy one. And it’s all about the long run. Spiritually, we need to adopt the same understanding. A verse came to mind while I putting this together. It’s originally found in the Old Testament, and Jesus picks it up in his teachings. The Shema tells us we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus adds that we are also to love our neighbor as our self. Now that’s a spiritual diet we can live with!
Imagine it. How would life look if every choice we made was determined by whether the outcome would move us closer to completely loving God? Not just during Lent, but when we’re on summer vacation, or whenever. And you might be getting ready to assure me that you do that already, and have done it since you became a believer. Be careful how you justify yourself, Jesus may call you to deeper service (see Luke 10).
So, how’s your diet going this Lenten season? What have you gained by filling up and focusing more lovingly on the one who knows you best and loves you most?