As well educated as I am, I continue to learn as much and as often as possible. Being teachable causes some stress, I admit, but in the long run, such growth brings freedom, joy, and peace!
As I talked about the Scriptures recently, I noticed something in John’s first letter I don’t remember ever seeing. It was tucked into the 2nd chapter, as it had been for 2000 years. For me it remained hidden, like the cut of a gemstone, revealed only by the Light of God’s Spirit working in me, in the situation, and perhaps through the person with me.
Perhaps God opened it for me as I share with you about the Spiritual Disciplines. His timing graciously giving us the gift of understanding His Word?
1 John says nothing about fasting. John speaks very clearly about who we are, as God’s children, as the church, and he gives succinct images of Christian character; our love of God and each other. Tucked away among these images is this instruction;
15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1John 2:15-17 NLT)
In verse 16, John warns us about “cravings” which pit us against the blessings God wants for us. Fasting, abstaining (for a defined period) from food or any other of the myriad of activities and behaviors which go with being human, allows us to clearly see the Father who cares for His children in every circumstance.
To let go the “cravings” is to draw closer to the Creator, Maker of all things, including people!
While there is nothing wrong with enjoying life, with “stuff,” or with success, God wants us to find our identity, fulfillment, and purpose in Him. By choosing God first, whatever we do brings as much attention to God (glorifying Him) as to us. The mission of the church has always been introducing a loving, gracious, and merciful God to the world, the same task Jesus exemplified when He denied Himself the rights of a King and took instead the role of servant instead.
To “fast” creates space for God in our cluttered lives, our too busy, too much, too many, too assiduous (constantly attentive), lives. It’s just that simple.