As you know we are over a week into the Lenten season. Lent is traditionally a time leading up to the celebration of Easter for Christians to reflect upon the cost of redemption. Often this is done through the giving up of something treasured during the period of Lent; things like soda, meat, sweets, shopping, TV, etc…. I once gave up following sports for Lent, though I didn’t really think that through very well with the opening of Spring Training and March Madness! But perhaps my favorite Lenten sacrifice came by way of a tweet from a person who said they were “giving up themselves” for Lent.
While pithy, there is truth at its core that’s worth some reflection. The biggest question is, “Who is the ‘self’ in view?” When the Bible talks about dying to self, it does not have in mind all the good and wonderful qualities that make you, you. It is not thinking of that God-given Imago Dei that each of us is stamped with at birth. Rather, in view is what is often called the “old self,” i.e. that sinful nature that wants to corrupt and destroy the good creation that we are. It is this “self” that tugs at the corners of our minds and extrudes into our day to day existence. It is this “self” we want to see wither and die.Which brings us back to Lent. Can we that easily give up ourselves? Remember Lent is about the “cost of redemption.” In this case the price to be paid in order for that “old self” to die a complete and exhaustive death is nothing less than the death of the righteous Son of God. His willing embrace of our sinful nature allowed for the deliverance that we long for. His death accomplished what we could never do on our own, and has opened the way of healing for you and me. To put it in a tweet-worthy form, “Jesus died to self so that we can live as our true selves!” And while it is true that we still struggle with the “old self,” we know substantial healing now and will know that complete healing in the Kingdom to come!