Reader’s Choice: Anon: This was one I enjoyed over the Lenten season. It helped articulate that living the Christian life is not a long list of things you now can’t do, but orienting your life around saying Yes, Yes to Christ, in whom is ultimate freedom. Made it easier to give up sugar!
843 Acres: What’s the Purpose of Giving Something Up?
Originally published during Lent, March 5, 2014
Highlighted: 2 Cor 4:7-12
Lent: Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the 40-day liturgical period of prayer and fasting or abstinence that we call Lent. During this season, many of us will give up certain things—social media, chocolate, alcohol—but how many of us understand that Lent isn’t fundamentally about abstention at all?
Abstention: On Saturday, at S1NGLE hosted by Redeemer, Wesley Hill talked about abstention in the form of chastity. He said that his understanding of chastity as a single Christian flipped from negative to positive when he began to discern the fundamental purpose of abstention in the Christian life. “When God gives someone a calling,” he said, “it’s never primarily about orienting your life around saying, ‘No,’ to something. A calling is not about constructing a practice of abstention from something. A calling or a vocation … is fundamentally about saying, ‘Yes,’ to something and whatever you abstain from in the course of pursuing that is important, but it’s not the most important. It’s not the thing you build your passion around or order your affections around.”
Purpose: What then do we build our passions and affections around? To what do we say, “Yes”? Paul writes, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed … so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” In other words, Paul embraces abstention from political freedom in the form of imprisonment and persecution and abstention from an unmarked and healthy body in the form of sufferings and beatings. Why? So that the Corinthians might fully enter into the risen life of Christ. He abstained so that they might know Christ.
Prayer: Lord, In this season of abstention, may we look deeper than at the abstention itself. Show us how to say, “Yes,” to knowing you and to loving others so that we may discern that to which you are calling us to say, “No.” And may we orient this Lenten season around our Yes, not our No. Indeed, may we use Lent as a time of seeking your face so that we may hear your voice about turning our entire lives toward you. Amen.
About Anon: Anon works in the healthcare industry in New York City.
M’Cheyne Weekend Reading as Scheduled:
Friday, August 22: Jer 51 (txt | aud, 11:31 min) & Ps 30 (txt | aud, 1:29 min)
Saturday, August 23: Jer 52 (txt | aud, 6:23 min) & Ps 31 (txt | aud, 3:16 min)
Sunday, August 24: Lam 1 (txt | aud, 4:42 min) & Ps 32 (txt | aud, 1:29 min)
 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 ESV