Sunday, March 04, 2007

Self Centred Sacrifice?

It seems that one of the perks of having worked at the Baptist National Center is that now I've left, I get sent the monthly newsletters, including Coffee Break by the National Administrator, Kelvyn Fairhall.

In his most recent newsletter, he makes a comment on lent:

One of the disciplines of lent is to give up something for the duration [of Lent] as a symbol of sacrifice but it is really only effectual if one in like manner also gives out to others. Without doing so the "sacrifice" is somewhat self-centered - that is antithetical don't you think?

The comment got me thinking about what some people do for Lent; give up coffee, give up TV, etc, etc. But seldom do you hear of people saying that they are going to give up coffee and give the savings to charity, or give up on TV and spend a couple of hours a day helping out in the community.

Do we for the most part only take part in Lent so that we can feel good about ourselves?

It's not a question I can really answer as I have never given up anything for Lent - I have never seen any tangible reason for doing so, until now.

Giving up something and replacing it with servanttude towards others seems like a tangible reason for observing Lent. I might have to re-evaluate my Lenten response.

7 comments:

servant said...

Or do we go through a period of self sacrifice so that following on from it we may be able to better offer ourselves in servitude?

During Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness was he directly offering something to others, or was he using it as a time of preparation?

servant said...

& generally we give up things for Lent that truly are a sacrifice.... if it doesn't hurt, it isn't a sacrifice. Thus it's not about 'feeling good' :o)

onscreen said...

Fair comment, but do any of us really give up anything of significance?

And if we do give something up for Lent, don't we just replace it with something else?

What better way to portray Lent to the community than groups of Christians giving up their time to work on community projects etc?

Jesus didn't just give up Coffee or TV, he gave up everything didn't he?

servant said...

"What better way to portray Lent to the community than groups of Christians giving up their time to work on community projects etc?"

We should be doing this all the time. The Christian life should be marked by this. Lent is a chance to focus in on something specific that one wouldn't give any thought to during the rest of the year.

Don't underestimate the significance of giving up things like coffee and TV... for some, these are addictions and quite difficult to give up for a period of time.

It seems to me that you are projecting your own assumptions on to other people in a negative light. The sacrifice of things that sound frivilous to us, may be significant for the person giving them up.

Yes, Jesus did give up everything... but the point is sacrifice.... there are ways in which I seek to embody the crucifixion.... does that mean I need to hang on a cross like Jesus to identify with it?

Your point is extremely good, but don't diminish the efforts of others with general assumptions :o)

onscreen said...

"Don't underestimate the significance of giving up things like coffee and TV... for some, these are addictions and quite difficult to give up for a period of time."

Should these addictions not be addressed during the "normal Christian life"?

It might be very difficult for some people, but should we be in a position where we are addicted to "luxuries" such as TV and coffee?

"it seems to me that you are projecting your own assumptions on to other people in a negative light."

I don't mean to be negative towards others, I'm just exploring, forming, my views in a semi public forum.

"but don't diminish the efforts of others with general assumptions"

Diminishing others is never my aim, though I will be realistic and say that it is easy to over look what others are going through when you are 'verbally' processing your own thoughts on a subject.

servant said...

Good thoughts bro.

"Should these addictions not be addressed during the "normal Christian life"?"

Yes, but often they are not, so Lent provides a good catalyst to do so.... just as it could be transformed to provide a good catalyst for the service you have mentioned.

"It might be very difficult for some people, but should we be in a position where we are addicted to "luxuries" such as TV and coffee?"

Ideally, no we shouldn't be in a position where we need to address these things as an issue, but the fact is that in this culture of hedonistic consumerism and because of human nature, we are.

I'm sure most of us could bring attention to things in our lives that need to be worked on... Lent is a focussed time for doing that.

onscreen said...

"I'm sure most of us could bring attention to things in our lives that need to be worked on... Lent is a focussed time for doing that."

Now that's a good reason for Lent.

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