Lifted Up (John 12:32)

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.

John 12:32

Tomorrow, my calendar tells me, is Ash Wednesday; the beginning of Lent. I have never been one to observe Lent. However, this morning’s verse reminded me of a couple things.

Lent is, as I understand it, meant for the believer to refocus on Christ and to abstain from some perfectly good and acceptable thing in order to empathize with Christ’s self-denial. If this is so, then I see no reason not to observe the season. So long as I use this as an opportunity to lift Christ up within me.

Lent is also, I suspect, a very visible season to the unbelieving world. It is made more visible by celebrations like Mardi Gras and Carnival heralding its arrival with hedonistic fanfare. Regardless of that, I think that the believer might use the season to exercise the fruit of the Spirit known as self-control. In a world increasingly out of control, self-control might draw people like ants to sugar (or bacon, in my apartment … our ants have a very discriminating palate).

If I observe this season at all, let me do so in order to lift Christ up.

Christ on the cross is obedience on display. The Father sent Christ to die and rise again and Christ died and rose again. Am I obedient to the point where others see Christ’s obedience in me?

Christ on the cross is self-control lived out to death. Jesus said He had power to lay His life and down and take it back up. He said that He could come down from the cross any time He wanted to. He did not. He remained on that cross, in full control of Himself, until it was finished. Am I self-controlled enough to continue in obedience, even (and especially) when that obedience is difficult?

Christ on the cross is God’s love nailed to the beam like a pennant flying high. It is God’s standard; His flag planted on the hill of Calvary. Does my life; do my actions similarly put God’s love on display?

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