There is no place in scripture (that I have found) that instructs believers to observe Lent. Just as there is no place in scripture for believers to celebrate the birth of Christ (Christmas), or a day set aside for Thanksgiving. However, we are called to observe regularly and celebrate (probably more than once a year) the death and resurrection of Jesus (“The Lord ’s Table” or Communion – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with celebrating Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any other religious/historical/traditional holiday/celebration. But there is the danger of missing the point of the celebration among the tradition. Just look at what our culture has done to Christmas and Thanksgiving.
What’s the point of Lent?
Sacrifice (of Christ). Cost (of Christ). Meditation (on Christ). Refocusing (on Christ). Many people accomplish this by purging their lives of “extras” that often consume their time, money, and attention in order to spend more time reflecting on Jesus.
The point is not for you to lose weight or quit smoking…or anything else you’ve wanted to do that you think will make you a “better person”. The point is not “what can I do/give up for ME?” or… “what can I do (or give up) for God?” because Jesus already DID EVERYTHING (and gave up everything) for you (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
I do not see Ash Wednesday in Scripture, although the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in: 2 Samuel 13:19, Esther 4:1, Job 2:8, Daneil 9:3, and Matthew 11:21. I do not see Lent in scripture, but I do see the spiritual discipline of fasting, but again…for the purpose of prayer and focus on God and his strength, wisdom, and provision.
LET CHRIST BE YOUR FOCUS
Whether you decide to give something up (or add something) for Lent, let me encourage your focus to be on Christ and his finished work on the cross.