March 2, 2022
The Lent Series
Day 1: Less can equal more
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5
Lent is a powerful time in the church calendar that can deeply impact our walk with God. For many years of church history, believers have used the forty days of Lent from Ash Wednesday to the Death and Resurrection of Christ to go deeper with God and contemplate what it meant for Jesus to redeem His people.
It is normal for individuals to choose to give something up in their lives during Lent. This is not to earn favor from God but to focus our minds on what is most important. It follows in the footsteps of Jesus who gave up His very life on a Roman cross. The creator became one of the created in the incarnation in order to reconcile the created with the creator at the cross.
Think of what Jesus gave up in order to give us life. He emptied Himself so that we could be filled. He died so that we could live. He left heaven for squalid Bethlehem so that we could be redeemed from our sinful and broken places and experience healing, wholeness, and life. He was crucified so that we could be justified. He gave His life at Golgotha so we could receive life for eternity.
Paul describes this act of Christ as a great lessening. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!”
In a radical act of lessening, Jesus subverted the status quo in our world, just as He does in our lives if we know Him personally. In emptying Himself he made it possible for us to be filled.
As we walk through the forty days of Lent we want to explore the possibility that less can be more. We believe that there is a principle of lessening in how we live that can revolutionize our lives and the lives of those around us. In a world that is always about more there is something deeply subversive about less.
Can we live a life of subtraction in order to live a life of abundance? Can we empty our lives of our busyness and activity and find ourselves more fulfilled and satisfied? Can we do less and accomplish more for God’s Kingdom? Can we let go of those things that we medicate with and find ourselves more alive than before?
Our world thinks in terms of addition. The more we add to our lives, to our possessions, to our calendar and to our sense of self-importance, the happier we will be. Is it possible that the world's definition of satisfaction by addition is upside down and that real satisfaction comes from subtraction rather than addition? It is in including the right things in our lives rather than the multiplicity of things that makes life meaningful. Central to this is making Jesus and His values the core of our lives at all times. Life is not about us. It is about Him and us living in Him.
This is a subversive idea. Wikipedia says that “Subversion refers to a process by which the values and principles of a system in place are contradicted or reversed in an attempt to transform the established social order and its structures of power, authority, hierarchy, and social norms.”
Isn't that exactly what Jesus did in the incarnation? The author of creation and the king of the universe came to earth as one of the created. A baby instead of a king. Into poverty instead of grandeur. A carpenter instead of a VIP. An itinerant rather than a settler. And then, a crucifixion rather than a coronation. He became disgraced so we could experience amazing grace. At every turn: how He lived; what He taught; His dependence on the Father, the death He died, He was subverting the status quo and the religious practices of the day.
Think of His upside down teaching
- To live you have to die
- To be first you must be last
- To become rich you must give it away
- To be joyful you need to mourn
- To be strong you must be humble
- To be a leader you must be a servant
And the largest subversive act in history was a dead Christ raised to life after three days, defeating the power of death and sin. Jesus was the most subversive force the world has ever encountered and the most subversive relationship we will ever encounter. He changed and changes everything. But, just as He chose to give up His prerogatives for us, there are things we are called to give up to join Him in His subversive work in this world. He is turning the world on its head and He invites us to join Him in that work.
Over the next forty days we will consider how we can experience the less is more life. It is often in the subtraction that we experience more.
Our choosing to give up something for Lent can lay the foundation for us to better experience the spiritual realities we will be studying. Less can be more in almost all of life. In fact, our journey will be about less of us and more of Christ. And that is the most important equation. The more of Jesus in our lives, and the less of us, the more subversive we become.
Would you join us on this journey? We invite you to start by considering what it is that you are going to give up for Lent. That small decision can be a reminder throughout the next 40 days that less can be more. What we give up in our physical world can remind us of what God desires to do in our spiritual lives.
Father. I want to join you in your subversive work in this world. Give me some ideas of those things I can give up in the next forty days of Lent. Help this be a reminder that less can be more and that subversive subtraction can empower me as I join you in your work.
The question to consider today: Should I give something up for Lent to remind me that He is the center of my life and my greatest focus?