To Facebook or Not To Facebook.....that is the question!
I have been a member of the Methodist faith for about 15 years now. I grew up in the Pentecostal faith at an Assembly of God Church. I thought Lent was something that only the Catholics did-which according to my southern Pentecostal granny-God rest her soul, "Didn't believe the same things we did!" So Lent was a term I may have heard once or twice growing up and then never thought any more about it; that is until I started working for the United Methodist Church. I found out that Lent is a time of personal sacrifice in order to mirror the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert. It was supposed to be a time of reflecting on what Jesus had done for us when he performed the ultimate sacrifice on Black Friday-laying down his life for all and then rising again on Easter. As I learned more and more about the customs of Lent and about where they came from I was intrigued and humbled by some of the "things" I heard people were sacrificing. One was giving up coffee; that would get ugly at my house! One was giving up chocolate, another wine, another television, and so on and so on, you get the picture. So I joined the sacrificial masses and gave up my then current addiction of fountain Diet Coke, McDonald's diet coke to be precise. There is just something about a carbonated soda (drool). Now, I would like to tell you that this sacrifice of mine was eye-opening, life changing and spiritually awakening for me as a Christian......but I can't. Honestly, I don't even remember if this Lenten sacrifice did anything for me but give me a caffeine headache for the first couple weeks (this was before I discovered the joys of morning coffee:)) This sacrifice was supposed to draw me closer to God and make me feel like I was walking in the shoes of Jesus, right?! For me, it did neither of those things. I just felt like I was "doing my duty" and when someone asked me "What did you give up for Lent?" I at least had a response. The more I thought about Lent and this practice of giving up something in our lives, the more I began to wonder what the whole purpose of it was. I thought I would look it up, so I typed in "What is the purpose of Lent?" Here is what I found; The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. This event, along with its pious customs, is observed by Christians in the Anglican, Calvinist, Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent) 2016. SO, was my giving up diet coke meeting all of these requirements?? I don't think so. Please understand that I am not saying that if you are giving something up during this time of Lent that you are not doing any of these things and I applaud you for your will power and self-control, however, I just wonder if we are giving our full attention of what we COULD be doing during Lent instead of what we are NOT doing?! One of the pastors of our church spoke on this very subject one year and said that although Lent was a time of sacrifice it could also be a time of doing more of something or introducing a new habit into our lives. Maybe you could read a scripture everyday, you could set aside a time of daily prayer, you could volunteer locally, and the list went on and on. Now, to me this made more sense then giving something up, because frankly, once the 40 days were over I was high-tailing it to Mickey D's and grabbing a large Diet Coke! I am not telling you that you should not give something up during the Lenten period, that is a tradition and I feel that traditions are important. But what if every person that sacrifices something also pledges to do something too think of how many could become more versed in God's word, or how many more prayer warriors we would have out there. I think that adding a sacrificial act of service to our already busy to do list would be a great testament to God's love and the legacy that Jesus wanted to leave. Serving others is a sacrifice with great rewards. I like the idea of choosing to do something that is Christ-centered, not me-centered and making it a spiritual habit that lasts beyond 40 days. I hope that I am not coming off as self-righteous, this is just from my experience and what I feel works for me. I think that for the young people of this world, it may work for them too. Think about how busy everyone seems to be these days. It is probably easier for them to say, "Yeah, ok, I can give up soda for 40 days. No problem." Is it because they know that they can get it back on Easter? I don't know, maybe. But wouldn't it be greater to have that same person say, "Yeah, I can give up 15 minutes of my day to read my Bible." And then at the end of the 40 days God has planted the seed of His word in their hearts and they have made a spiritual habit that will effect them and generations to come? As I said before, I am not saying that giving something up during Lent is not a spiritual act of sacrifice, I am just saying that maybe we should look deeper into it. Especially for those that are young to the church and young to service. Let's get back to my title-"To Facebook or Not To Facebook" the reason for this is that I originally started my Lenten journey this year planning on giving up Facebook for 40 days; but then I truly feel God laid this message on my heart. Why give something up that can be used as a tool to further the kingdom of God? So, that is exactly what I am going to try and do. Whether I blog, post a verse, or just an inspirational thought, my goal is to use social media for the Glory of God. Whatever you decide to do during Lent, whether you make the sacrifice of material things or a sacrifice of your time, I wish God's blessings on you. I want to leave you with these verses from Romans 12:1-2; "So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. 2 Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect." Blessings-Nicole