The Bishops of the United Methodist Church are calling on members of the denomination to deny themselves during the 2018 Lenten Season for the sake of the kingdom of Jesus Christ and to set aside self-interest so that others may have a more abundant life.
In a message sent on behalf of UMC bishops to United Methodists throughout the world, Council of Bishops President Bishop Bruce R. Ough challenged fellow Christians to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34-35:
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
Losing one’s life for the sake of the gospel, Bishop Ough said, means that one has to live the same purposeful life Jesus lived.
“It means to deny our preferences for the sake of Jesus’ kingdom purposes,” he said. “It means to set aside our self-interest so that others may have a more abundant life. It means we are saved in order to participate in the salvation of others.
“It means our hearts will break for the very situations that break the heart of God.”
For the Lenten season that starts on Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018, UMC bishops are asking Methodists to engage in spiritual disciplines that include praying, fasting and sharing their resources with others in their communities.
“During this Lenten season, let us continue to live out our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Bishop Ough said in the message. “Together, let us lose our lives for the sake of the Gospel.”