Andy Crouch wrote an excellent book on redeeming power called Playing God (yes, you need to pick it up and read it). In the book, Crouch suggests that power is something that is intrinsic to the human condition. Humanity has been granted much power: the power to control, the power to consume, the power to manipulate, cultivate, and destroy. And humanity is in a constant struggle when it comes to how it uses this power.
Will I take control, or hold off?
Will I consume more, or consume less?
Will I manipulate something just because I can?
Will I cultivate something beyond all recognition?
Will I destroy something… or someone… completely?
A lot of the time, humanity struggles with restraint when it comes to power. That’s why Easter and the cross is such a scandal to those who have much power. And that’s why we need Lent.
Lent is the period of time that begins on Ash Wednesday (which was this past Wednesday, February 10), and covers a period of around six weeks before Sunday. The purpose of Lent is to prepare us believers for the Passion Week through times of prayer, repentance of sins, generosity to the poor, and self-denial. Many people decide to fast or go without something that is meaningful to them during this time.
When we practice Lent, we purposefully lay down power that has been given to us. We repent of ways that we misused power in our lives. We fast from things that may have power over us (food, media, devices, etc), and we empower others by giving of our resources.
Lent reminds us that there is more to power than simply being able to do whatever we want. Lent reminds us that there is power in weakness, that there is power in love, in forgiveness, and there is power in the cross—a cross that has conquered more territory and has rescued more lives than any army throughout history.
I encourage you to take a moment each day over the next month or so, and reflect on what power means to God. Adopt whatever disciplines you need to (Fasting, prayer, generosity, etc) stay focused on the task. It’s a helpful way to set our minds on what is of greatest importance to our Christian faith.