I just noticed an article in our local newspaper about a new iPhone app for people who need to confess their sins. Sounds like an interesting way to add substance to our Lenten spiritual disciplines. The article asks, “Can your iPad or iPhone bring you closer to God?” It is aimed at Roman Catholics as the app is titled “Confession: A Roman Catholic App.” It costs $1.99. Cheap enough, but is it cheap grace?
My wife knows after 35 years of marriage to ask another question after I say a generic, “I’m sorry.” She asks, “Why are you sorry?” Now that really gets into a full-disclosure confession. It also makes sure that I think more than twice before I commit the same stupidity again. It isn’t $1.99 grace, and it isn’t cheap.
Lent is a season when we need to enter into Christ’s passion and suffering so that we, too, may rise on Easter. The word, “Lenten,” comes from the Old English word, “lencten,” “to lengthen.” Lenten season literally implies that we take a longer look at ourselves. As the days get longer so should our spiritual disciplines.
John Wesley organized the people of the 18th English Wesleyan Revival into classes and bands so that they might be accountable helpers for one another’s spiritual growth. He saw salvation not as a forensic matter to be proved in court by a time-specific body of evidence; i.e. “I was saved at 8 p.m. on March 11, 1971.” It included known events but wasn’t limited to one-time shots of salvation. Wesley emphasized the therapeutic nature of Christ’s redemptive work. His notion of salvation certainly was a process – a healing, therapeutic process that led through his via salutis (way of salvation) by stages of prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace. It was dynamic (therapeutic) not static (forensic). It was never-ending, always a growing in grace and upheld by the means of grace!
All the more reason as the season of Lent starts that we commit ourselves to more than a $1.99 iPhone app. Find your prayer partners, friends, Sunday School & Bible Study colleagues, Clergy buds, and neighbors who are just simply intrigued by Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday; and ask “Would you like to help me have a better Lent this year?” I pray that we will be surprised and hope-filled by the amazing ways that we can grow in grace this Lent.