Thursday, March 3, 2011

HOPE FOR TODAY: What Happens during Mardi Gras is Recorded in Heaven

Costumes, parades, fattened calves, masks and of course, beads. They are all connected with Mardi Gras. For the unfamiliar it is a gigantic party in New Orleans each year, but to the familiar it is a whole lot more.

Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, and has become known as a season of celebration. It officially starts 12 days after Christmas and goes until midnight on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

Some historians say the origin goes back to the Roman Empire in the second century. Over time the Roman Catholic Church tried to Christianize the pagan event which has become a mixture of religious and pagan rituals and traditions.

Today Mardi Gras celebrations are found in cities across the United States and at least 12 nations. There are millions of people that participate. New Orleans is the face of Mardi Gras, which routinely has over 600,000 people gather each year on Fat Tuesday.

From the Roman Empire to the French Quarters, the days of Mardi Gras are well known as days of self-indulgence of every sort, and that is the point. There is a sense of freedom to engage in whatever your heart desires. Open drunkenness, sexual immorality, and vulgarity of every kind are found – until the stroke of midnight on Fat Tuesday. Then from Ash Wednesday through the 40 days of Lent people are to confess their sins and prepare themselves for Easter Sunday.

Have you ever seen the commercial, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?” That slogan represents the culture of Mardi Gras. Indulge now, confess later and all will be well. That is a dangerous belief. If you plan to do something wrong, but it is legal and fun, and afterwards you intend to confess your foolishness does that mean it is okay? The mindset that we can do whatever we want, offer a half-hearted confession and think that God’s love will cover our sin is a huge misunderstanding.

How foolish to think we can deceive the Most High God. He knows our motives and the sincerity of our hearts. God will not grant forgiveness to a pre-planned, unremorseful confession that is simply based on a religious ritual after a season of wide-eyed and highhanded sin, which you anticipate doing again anyway. There is no mercy for such souls, only the judgment of God. Scripture says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31)

Jesus blood was not shed to give our guilty conscience a brief and shallow season of peace while we continue in a sinful lifestyle. Rather, His blood was shed to make us whole and holy. His precious gift of forgiveness came at a tremendous cost. It requires a genuine confession of sin with a truly repentant heart and life. As we enter this time of Lent may our hearts be humble and holy before the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Receive His gift of forgiveness and hope for today.