Why do Christians observe Lent?

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If the Christian calendar is an instrument for faith formation, what ought to be formed in us during Lent? Romans 6.3 says: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death?" As a preparation for baptism and renewal of baptism we are called to live as those who are being baptised in Christ's death, that being raised with him "we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6.4).
   
And being raised with Christ we are to set our minds on "things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3.2). Thus, Lent is a season to emphasise our spiritual practices, especially laying aside "every weight and the sin that clings so closely," that we might "run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith…" (Hebrews 12.1b-2a).

Lent reminds us of Jesus' 40 days of testing in the desert (Matthew 4.1-11). Sermons may often reflect on the manner in which he was tempted to be the wrong kind of Messiah. He resisted the temptation to feed hungry stomachs without also feeding the spirit from every Word that proceeds from God. He resisted the temptation to push for miraculous acts that turned Almighty God into a mere magician, but do not conform to God's purpose.
   
He stood against the kind of abuse of power that in the end promotes evil and injustice. As followers of Christ we recall not only that Jesus withstood the fiery darts of the devil, but we also are called to resist evil in whatever forms it may take (1 Corinthian 10.13)

Lent also reminds us of Jesus' own journey to Jerusalem where a cross awaited him. In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) we hear Jesus telling his disciples that all who follow him must also take up their cross and follow him.
   
Lent is a time to reflect upon and shoulder our own crosses, those particular challenges God gives us to bear the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.


[What is Lent?]