Mar 14, 2019 by Alyssa Duvall

Matt Chandler Challenges Christians Observing Lent: "We Don't Fast For Fasting's Sake"

In a recent video from The Village Church, Pastor Matt Chandler issued a challenge to Christians participating in the season of Lent leading up to Easter. Carefully noting that Lent, like other traditions, can easily become a vain and hollow exercise, Chandler offered a helpful guide for those choosing to fast to help “orient their hearts around the betterness of Jesus above earthly pleasures.”

After giving a brief overview of the history of Lent and its traditional observance involving fasting from food (rather than modern treats like social media, chocolate, or others), Chandler clarified that, obviously, Christians shouldn't be going on a hunger strike until Easter. Instead, he pointed to a single meal, perhaps breakfast or lunch, that can be given up and denied to one's body.

“We want to set aside a good gift from God in the gift of food, the provision of that food, the gift of the taste of that food, the joy that comes from that food," Chandler said. “In this week of Lent… maybe one of the ways that you exercise this is by refraining from a breakfast or a lunch."

More importantly than what food or how much of it you give up, Chandler offered encouragement to take the time you would have spent preparing or eating food to instead pray and spend time in God's Word:

“And then, using that time, that hour or that 30 minutes, however long you’re given, either at work or at home, depending on how you do it, to pray, to consider, to read the text and the seasons guide, and to orient your heart around the betterness of Jesus above and over all earthly pleasures.”

The "seasons guide" Pastor Chandler referred to is a free resource from The Village Churche that offers readers several references for learning more about Lent its true purpose, which transcends simply fasting out of reflexive observance of a tradition. The guide includes weekly fasting instructions, as well prayer suggestions and scripture to read throughout the six-week Lenten season.

“Lent is about identifying with the temptation and suffering of Jesus Christ before we celebrate the resurrection on Easter,” Chandler explained in another video about the Lent guide. “The forty days leading up to Easter, the church has historically entered into a season of self-denial, of fasting, and of focusing on Jesus bearing the weight of sin and death for those of us who are in Christ.”

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