During Lent, we talked about discipleship through a Rule of Life, an intentional pattern of habits and disciplines meant to form us more and more into the image of Christ. If you didn’t walk through that process with us, no problem! You can find the material here and you can always go back to listen to previous sermons.
In fact, that’s what I want to impress upon us as we continue in this joyous Easter season. For me, the happiness of Easter morning was underscored by welcoming back some pleasures I had denied myself during Lent. (That piece of chocolate cake never tasted so sweet!) This is why we don’t ‘fast’ from sinful habits that shouldn’t be a part of our lives to begin with. We fast from good things (like, say, a meal or dessert or a cup of coffee) so that we can remind ourselves to rely on something even better: Jesus. If we ‘fasted’ from things we knew to be sinful, then Easter would surely send a mixed message—’Christ is risen! Time to catch up on all that sinning we’ve been missing out on!’ That wouldn’t make sense.
In the same way, a Rule of Life isn’t meant to be a set of lenten disciplines designed to deprive or punish us. It’s not some ‘spiritual endurance test’ that we suffer through before we get to Easter and can go back to ‘normal.’ That’s precisely the opposite intention of creating and living out a Rule of Life.
Lent is a good season for creating a Rule of Life because it’s a time when we open up empty, honest space in our lives. When we strip away distractions and creature comforts, we see ourselves for what we are and we have a moment to look up from our day-to-day and see where we are headed. That’s the perfect season to identify the vices that ensnare us and begin praying about how we might grow into virtues that will help us love God and love others more faithfully.
Lent is the perfect time to create a Rule of Life, but Easter is the time to live it. A good Rule of Life lays out a basic structure of how we might begin to live the rich, full life that Christ intends for us (John 10:10). It isn’t about denying ourselves happiness—it’s about rejecting those temptations that masquerade as happiness but ultimately lead us back to a destructive love of self. Our Rule of Life may challenge us and may stretch us, but as we faithfully follow the path of discipleship, we should find our joy increasing and find our burdens feeling light.
The Easter season is about accepting Christ’s invitation into an entirely different way of living in the world, made possible by his resurrection. A Rule of Life is a way for us to orient our lives to walk more closely alongside him. So don’t shed your Rule of Life along with your lenten fast; instead, gladly take up this opportunity to follow Christ!