For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:10-11 ESV).
In receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, we were reminded of our own mortality. To dust we all shall return. Death and its inherent separation is something earned. Sure, we received sin's death sentence thanks to our first parents, but we've all contributed our fair share. Before we even wiped the ashes from our foreheads, we likely said or did or thought something to drive a deeper wedge between us and God, or us and our neighbor.
Alienation from God is something earned. But he didn't leave us there. "While we were enemies," Paul writes, "we were reconciled to God by the death of his son." Jesus entered our mortality, experienced our death, so we might receive his life. Reconciliation with God is something received.
Reconciliation is our theme this Lent season—seeking it in all our relationships, owning our part—but that is only made possible by the life of Christ in us, and the reconciliation with God we have received through him. So even in our somber reflection, as we face our own frailty and need for repentance, there is cause for rejoicing. If you’re thinking about giving something up for Lent, do so in light of what you have received, at the infinite cost of what Jesus gave up for us.