The season of Lent is a little over half way done. It is a season in which we lament our sins, asking forgiveness for all of the times we have messed up. It is a season in which we deny ourselves for a time, fasting from some normal pleasure in our lives, as a way of teaching ourselves to live within limits. As we learn to say no for a time to sweets, television, or Facebook, we train our minds to learn how to say no to sin so that we can more fully live into God’s will for our lives. And it is a season in which we prepare for Easter, we prepare for new creation life, we prepare for the resurrection and the hope that naturally occurs because of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave.
As we encounter all of these moments during this season, the words of Titus seem to fit the heart of what we are trying to experience.
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” – Titus 2:11
Easter is about bringing salvation to all people. Jesus came to earth as a means of helping bring healing to the nations. Jesus came as part of God’s plan to redeem and restore the world. Jesus’ death and resurrection are a moment of great redemption. Just as the exodus from Egypt becomes the great redemption moment for Israel, the story of the cross, and Christ’s triumph over sin and death become the great redemption story for Christians. But we are not just being saved so that we can go to Heaven when we die. We are being saved so that we can participate in mission. We are being called into a life of faithfully living for God.
After Israel experiences their redemption from Egypt they are called to Sinai in which God challenges them to join in covenant. As part of the covenant, they are given the Law, which among other things is designed to help them live as a royal priesthood and a holy nation, inviting others around them into relationship with God.
As Christians experience salvation they are called to join God in covenant relationship as a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Part of this responsibility is centered around the way that Christians live. Christians are called to turn from godless living and sinful pleasure, and instead live in a way that brings wisdom to this evil world. Christians are called to flee from every kind of sin, and instead as God’s very own people, they are called to be committed to good deeds.
The joy of salvation leads naturally into a life on mission for God. This life of mission has ethical ramifications As those who have been invited to join God’s mission to redeem and restore the world, Christians are called to imitate the one who has invited them into this life. They are to live like Christ.
Thus, the seasons of Lent and Easter are preparation for mission. During the season of Lent, we are called to repent of our sins and begin living in service to God. As we say no through fasting we learn to say no to our own desires and instead say yes to God. As we prepare to celebrate Easter, we rejoice with the redemption brought about by the resurrection, but we are also reminded that the resurrection compels us into mission. We are redeemed so that we can participate with God. Salvation does not simply mean an eternity in Heaven. Salvation also means invited into abundant life now for the sake of the rest of the world.
So, as we continue to prepare for the upcoming celebration of Easter, remember, we are also preparing to participate in the mission of God.