“Stay here and keep watch with me…could you not keep watch with me for one hour? The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:36-46)
For many Christians, Lent is a time of giving up something: certain meals or specific kind of food. For others it may be giving up television or Facebook. Giving up something should serve the primary purpose of focusing on the death of Christ.
Whatever one’s motivation, practices, and purpose for observing Lent, we all have one fundamental hindrance, the “sarx,” the Greek word usually translated “body,” or “flesh” in our English Bible. In this passage it is a reference to our human nature. And here lies the problem. Although my “spirit,” that is my heart and mind, wants to do certain good things, my “flesh” often wins the battle. I cannot count the times I’ve purposed in my heart to do or not do certain things…only to find myself failing. I’m so like those disciples of Jesus in the Garden of Gethesemane. Have you found the same thing to be true of you?
So how do I respond to my failures? My first response is often guilt and shame. Sometimes I think I should just give up and not even try anymore…or I set the bar low enough so that I can be sure to get over it. But notice my focus: it is all about me!
Lent should be a time when my focus should not be on me but upon what Jesus did for me on the cross. He died for me…for all my failures and sin. When I take my eyes off myself, my failures and my sin, and put them on Christ and his forgiveness then I can rejoice and my heart is filled, not only with sadness that I’ve failed, but with joy because of what Jesus has done for me.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank you for the cross and the forgiveness that is extended to me because of your love and is mine through faith
-Gary Fredrick, Campus Minister to the Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) campus ministry