Currently, my Facebook feed is filled with articles about Lent, a 40 day season of fasting leading up to Easter. There are tips about how to observe Lent, creative ideas for Lent, theological treatises both for and against Lent. I know a lot of people who will attend an Ash Wednesday service, walking out bearing a public symbol of contrition. More than a few of my friends will give up something for Lent or take on a new spiritual discipline, all in the name of focusing on Jesus. I also know many followers of Jesus who will neither attend an Ash Wednesday service nor observe Lent.
Whether you choose to observe Lent or to rely on the ordinary means of grace as you continue to follow Jesus in the days and weeks ahead, my prayer is that the road you travel will be paved with freedom. Observing Lent because social media is telling you that everyone is doing it is slavery. Abstaining from Lent because of someone else's theological convictions is slavery. Believing that you are spiritually inferior because you don't go to an Ash Wednesday service is slavery. Ignoring the opportunity to enter into a season of contrition and lament because someone might think you're taking Christianity a bit too seriously is slavery.
On the other side of Lent is Easter, a reminder that Jesus' work in his life and death has made us free. If you belong to him, you woke up this morning freed from the shackles of having to prove yourself to God or to others. Free to observe Lent and equally free to ignore it. As the Apostle Paul writes, 'For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery' (Galatians 5:1).