The Common Good

Chris Thompson: Look Deeper Into Lent Than Just 'Give-Ups'

Date: March 14, 2014

Is "giving up" during Lent meaningful?

Last week, Christianity Today released a provocative article titled "What To Give Up For Lent 2014?: Twitter Reveals Top 100 Choices." Based on more than 100,000 tweets, the top 10 of 100 listed "give-ups" of items revealed:...

Renowned theologian Walter Brueggemann observed in a Sojourners article, "Lent is 'Come to Jesus' Time": "Lent is a time for fresh decision-making about reliance upon the God of the gospel. Such decision-making in Lent is commonly called "repentance." It's a time to reflect on the way in which God gives new life that is welcome when we recognize how our old way of life mostly leaves us weary and unsatisfied. Lent is a time to face the reality that there is no easy or "convenient" passage from our previous life to a new, joyous life in the gospel. The move is by the pattern and sequence of Jesus' own life, an embrace of suffering that comes with obedience, a suffering which comes inevitably when our lives are at odds with dominant social values."

The lists above reflect belief that giving up something means God will bless us and we'll become more spiritual. They don't tend to reflect spiritual values, or the fruit of an annual period of reflection on what Brueggemann terms "life with God."