“For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters…Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” Hebrews 2:11&18

The Lenten season is often looked at as a time of sacrifice and suffering, a time to remember Jesus’ fast in the wilderness and a time to prepare our hearts as we remember his resurrection. While I certainly believe and commend each of these practices, this passage from Hebrews shifts the focus.

Our sacrifice, whether in the form of something we “gave up for Lent” or whether we took on a new spiritual practice, is meant to sharpen and cleanse us as we become less distracted with our daily preoccupations and more focused on our relationship with Christ. It is only in right relationship with Jesus that we find sanctification, the gift of being made holy in the Kingdom of God and set apart from the kingdom of earth. By drawing close to him we find relationship and grace; in this season we are participating and relishing in the wonder of being citizens of The Kingdom of God.

In our sufferings and in our trials it’s important to remember again the words from Hebrews – that Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters and that since he too was tested, he can help us in our seasons of being tested. In Lent, we share life and familial connection with Christ.

Sacrifice is not about checking off a box on your to-do list. Sacrifice is not even about increased endurance (though there are surely scriptures to say that it helps!). Sacrifice is about sharing in the struggles of Christ, and through that shared experience coming into relationship with our Savior. For it is only through that relationship that we find grace, forgiveness, and life in the Kingdom of God.

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