Fasting and Lent
I gave up eating sweets for Lent this year. Normally, I’d wake up Easter morning and eat my first Cadberry egg before breakfast. But, it’s been a few days now and I don’t know that I’m going to ever go back to eating sweets. Ironically, in not eating desserts and the like, I felt more freedom than when I could (and did) gorge myself on them.
I was assigned to meditate on Romans 6:1-11 in one of my theology classes last year.
What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.
For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (For someone who has died has been freed from sin.)
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him. For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
This was what I wrote in response:
“As I reflect on this passage, I wonder deeply what it means to live a new life and be alive to God in Christ Jesus (verses 4 and 11). I am sure that part of what Paul is describing is a spiritual reality, but it also seems to indicate a day-to-day life that is free from sin. I do not feel free from sin most days, though. In the very next chapter, Paul wrestles with his own sinful condition, so he is not completely free from sin either.
However, I am afraid to relegate this new life and freedom Paul is describing to simply a spiritual reality (i.e. Paul only means that my soul is saved, but my actions are unchanged). I do not believe that I will ever outgrow my need for a savior in this life, but I ought to grow to be more like Jesus over time. As I meditate on this passage, I cannot find an easy answer describing exactly what this looks like. I am reminded of the enormity of Christ’s transformational power. I am convicted of my continuing need to remain connected to Jesus. This passage makes me want to continue praying to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that I may live a life that reflects being dead to sin and alive to God.”
Through the experience of fasting from sweets, I have a better idea of what this looks like, though it’s still not an easy answer. It’s growing in my dependence on God, every day, moment by moment. I never lacked the timely help we’re promised when we approach the throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16).
Most of the time what I lack is the desire to approach the throne of grace. I’m simply more interested in clinging to the sinful choices that ensnare me because at least I know what to expect.
I read recently, “Willpower is the willingness to accept God’s power.” So that’s what I’m doing. Instead of clinging to food the way I always have, I will cling to God to satisfy me and comfort my fears. It honestly feels like letting go of a trapeze and reaching my arms out in faith that God will be on the other side to catch me.
Easter reminds me that he can, and will, catch me.