Having grown up in the Church of Christ but having a lot of Catholic friends, I knew a little about Lent and Ash Wednesday, but I never practiced such things. Those things were, in the terminology of my spiritual teachers and guides, “denominational.” That meant, those things weren’t taught or authorized in Scripture. The conclusion or application for us, then, was that we shouldn’t participate in such ritualistic behavior. So that’s what I thought for a very long time.
Some of those same guides, however, were pretty pumped up about wearing WWJD (What would Jesus do?) bracelets back in the day. Was that authorized specifically in Scripture? No, of course not. So did that make it wrong, unbiblical, ritualistic, or sinful?
Whether it’s wearing a bracelet to help you remember your dedication to following Jesus or observing a 40-day period of fasting to commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus, anything that can help us grow closer to God should be considered a gift and a blessing. Right?
And while you may not be motivated to observe the same practices or “rituals” that I or others practice, why not appreciate that God has given us great latitude in the ways we can demonstrate our devotion to Him? It surely doesn’t help to paint others with a too-broad brush. While some may claim every Christian must observe Lent or Ash Wednesday, I don’t make that claim at all. And most of those I see who fast don’t claim that others have to do it the same way or at the same time or even for the same reasons.
Are Churches of Christ wrong from failing to observe Lent? No. It’s not commanded in Scripture. Are individual Christians wrong from observing a practice that in no way violates the letter or spirit of Scripture? Certainly not. So why not respect the attempts of others to grow in their faith even if they make sacrifices that you choose not to make?
As Christians for generations have been fond to quote (including many leaders in the early days of the Restoration Movement): “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.” Seems like wise advice to me.