Love, Lent, and Letting Go

Tomorrow I depart with my friends, coworkers, and friends-to-be on a monthlong international adventure. We will more or less circumnavigate the globe, not for travel’s own sake, but because we love people in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, as well as our North American home.

Today in anticipation of our trip we talked about what it takes to let go of our inherited lenses and ways of doing things in order to love people well. To experience fruitful relationships in another culture, we need to enter humbly, as learner. As followers of Jesus, we take him as our model. Though he was God, “he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” He avoided telling people his divine identity and instead focused on responding to their questions, expressing himself in forms relevant to 1st century Palestine.

The start of our travels tomorrow coincides not only with Valentine’s Day, but also with the season of Lent. Some Christians mark Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter, with disciplines such as giving up Facebook or not eating red meat on Fridays. At their best, such sacrifices are meant to help Jesus’ followers exercise humility and identify with his sufferings.

One year I did not use a camera for the 40 days. That was a good exercise for me. This year, I’m recognizing my global journey as a Lenten practice. I’m giving up my expected way of doing things, my cultural habits, for the sake of learning to love more like Jesus. I’ll be participating in cultural contexts that look more like Jesus’ than my culture of origin. I can’t wait. Love can’t wait.

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