There are a lot of things that are associated with Lent as a season, and most of them are wonderful. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are staples, and can play a huge part in a successful Lent. In the end, though, Lent comes down to two requirements. Repent and believe. That’s it.
What does it mean to repent, though? Repentance is a turning away, a rejection. Specifically, we repent of our sins. We look back on the lives we have lived to this point, and we acknowledge that there is one constant problem with them. We keep sinning over and over again. During our Lenten journey, we have to acknowledge that things are not what they were intended to be, and that our choices are largely responsible. We repent, we turn our back on our previous way of life, we seek to leave the sinfulness of our past behind and make a new start.
In a lot of ways, recognizing that things are wrong and that we’ve made mistakes is the easy part. The need to repent is pretty obvious with just a look around at the world. Turning away from sin, though simple, is far from easy. As with most things in life, identifying the problem is way simpler than finding the fix. Fortunately, we don’t have to fumble blindly looking for the answer. It has been provided for us: Believe in the Gospel. The solution has been provided in Christ crucified and resurrected. What falls to us, then, is to accept and believe the good news. This is not, however, a simple declaration, but a reality to be lived. If we believe, then our lives must reflect that belief and imitate the good news we’ve heard and come to know.
Inevitably, we will fail and fall short. Despite our striving for Christ, we will sin again. What are we to do then? Well, at the risk of being redundant, it bears repeating. Repent and believe the Gospel. When we fail again, repent again. Turn, not just away from sin, but to God in the Gospel.