What are you giving up for Lent? Chocolate? Facebook? Should we be giving up anything? Should we be giving up everything? How about this: giving up the body. I'm not saying not taking care of ourselves. We should give ourselves nourishment and clothing. Things that we need. God knows what we need, as Christ told us in his sermon on the mount, and he will not let us go without food and clothing. The problem is that we aren't satisfied with the necessities. We want more. We overfeed the body. We overdress. We engorge the body with attention. We punch holes in ourselves and permanently ink our flesh. We flood our brains with images from the television. We listen to dark and disturbing words and ideas. We fill our lives with the pleasures of the flesh. And there are other people in the world who can't get the necessities like food and clothing, because those simple resources are diverted to the garbage we fill our lives up with.
Lent is not just about giving up something, even though that is a step in the right direction. It is about redirecting ourselves from over-feeding the body to starting to feed the soul. Notice I said "starting" because we don't feed the soul at all. Our souls are like shriveled up raisins, and our bodies are fat and sloth-like. The real YOU is the soul. That is who you are. The body you have and I have are tents for keeping the soul housed on earth. We should be feeding and clothing these tents only in the necessary. Our souls should be engorged on wisdom, the imperishable Word of God.
Look at these words from Genesis 2: Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Adam was not the flesh, although the flesh is what he fed, bringing original sin into the world, from which we all suffer. No, Adam's self was the soul that God breathed into. But our bodies are still important, because they will be part of us for eternity. Our is the only religion that believes in a physical resurrection. Our bodies may be temporary, but they will be restored and renewed beyond what we have now. The perishable body will be restored with an imperishable body.
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:35-57)
"Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." This is why we must feed the soul and not the body. The imperishable soul inherits the kingdom of God. The imperishable soul gets the new body. If the soul is a shriveled up raisin there won't be enough to hang a sock on. This Lent is all about feeding the soul, but how do we do that?
Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 5:19-30)
He who hears the word of God and believes in the testimony of God--which only comes through deep study of the wisdom of this book--has eternal life. God's testimony, the testimony of this volume, is that of his Son, Jesus Christ. This whole book is about Jesus, and it is the most important testimony there is. So, this Lent, let us feed our souls, let us remember that we are dust, and that the breath of God is our true self. Let us commune with the Lord of Hosts, knowing that we inherit the kingdom of God by believing his testimony, by believing his Holy Word.