Lent is Dangerous

From my good friend the Rev. Toby Sumpter:
Stephen was stoned to death. James was beheaded. Matthew was pinned to the ground and beheaded. James the brother of Jesus was thrown off the temple tower and clubbed to death. Following Jesus is dangerous.

Matthias was stoned and then beheaded. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Mark was dragged to his death. Peter was crucified upside down.

Paul was beheaded. Jude was crucified. Bartholomew was beaten and crucified. Thomas was tortured, run through with spears, and thrown into the flames of an oven. Luke was hung from an olive tree.

If the season of Lent is an annual, concentrated reminder of the call of discipleship, the call to follow Jesus, then Lent is dangerous.

Lent is dangerous because there is historical controversy associated with it. While it had been celebrated for over a thousand years by the time of Calvin, there was so much superstition associated with it that he counseled against keeping Lent. Lent is dangerous because there are a number of ways to celebrate it badly: morbid introspection, conjuring up vague guilt and feeling holy for it, prideful abstaining from food and drink, looking down on those who don’t celebrate. False humility is as easy as lighting a dead Christmas tree on fire. One little spark and we puff up.

But Lent is dangerous ultimately because the cross is dangerous. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to those who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18). To those who want to find another way to grace, another path to mercy, the cross is an offense (Gal. 5:11). The sinful heart of man is offended by grace, offended by the folly of the cross. We would rather be proud in all sorts of ways.

Read the rest! It's wonderfully arresting and sound advice.