I always find Lent a refreshing season—even with its call to fasting and almsgiving! It’s a perfect time to examine what goes on in my mind: to reflect on the way I think and ask whether my thoughts (and the actions that flow from them) are pleasing to the Lord.
Our minds are one of the greatest gifts that God has given to us. When they are focused on Jesus, they have the capacity to receive "every spiritual blessing in the heavens"—to the point where we actually take on the "mind of Christ" (Ephesians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 2:16). However, our minds also have the capacity to reject Jesus. Isn’t it ironic how this magnificant gift can be either one of our greatest assets or one of our greatest hindrances in the spiritual life?
This is why we need seasons like Lent—times to focus on examining our inner lives. It’s why Paul urges us: "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind" (Romans 12:2), and why Peter tells us to "gird up the loins" of our minds, and to set our hope fully on God’s promise (1 Peter 1:13).
But the Christian life is not only about our striving to do good and resist temptation. It’s also about quietly letting the free gift of God’s grace do its own work in renewing our minds.
One example that helps make this point comes from the Old Testament. At one point during the Israelites’ desert wanderings, the people suffered an infestation of deadly serpents. God told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole, so that anyone who looked at the image could be healed (Numbers 21:8-9). Citing this story, Jesus said: "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life" (John 3:14-15). The point is that there is power in the cross of Christ, but we have to "look" to that cross if we want to be renewed.
When we seek Jesus, we will find him. We will find a power working in us—moving us to be like Jesus—that we know is not of us. We know that this power comes from God because it makes us more loving, more peaceful, and more able to resist temptation. These are all signs of a renewed mind, and they are all transformations that you can experience during these next forty days.
Welcoming Jesus. This Lent, more than one million people will be reading The Word Among Us. If you are a first-time reader, I’d like to encourage you to keep this booklet close at hand. Read the articles and try to apply what they say. Make it a point to read the meditations every day in prayer. We are convinced that God wants to give his children many great gifts; all we have to do is ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7-12).
Whether you are a first-time reader, a long-time reader, or somewhere in between, place your trust in Jesus this Lent. He wants to renew you. All you have to do is open the door and let him in (Revelation 3:20).