Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Our church community is still working our way through the Sermon on the Mount in Matt. 5-7. This week we're dealing with the section on fasting. We've challenged each other to fast in some way this week, whether it's one meal, one day, a media fast, whatever. During this time we are meditating on Psalm 91. My hope is that when we come together this Saturday night to talk about Jesus's words on fasting, that we will have fresh perspective on it.

Fasting is an interesting practice. It's been a habit of the church for centuries, done for the purpose of focusing on prayer and hearing from God. It's a way to sort of remind yourself that your place in the world, your very life, isn't sustained ultimately by food or the security of your next meal, but by the God who holds all things together. The temptation of food during a fast is an interesting dynamic. It's a temptation to take care of your own needs, to sustain yourself. The battle that takes place is whether I will find my sustaining strength in God or in what can only satisfy for a short time. It's no accident that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus goes straight from talking about fasting into talking about those that seek to "store up for [them]selves treasures on earth...." Money and wealth provide the same kind of temptation that food does in a fast. If I can just create for myself a situation where I'm financially secure and safe, then all is well. Hoarding money is one way that we try and provide for ourselves, and to secure our own futures. For Jesus, the cure for self-dependence is freeing ourselves from the false belief that our very existence is dependent upon our own efforts. It's the very reason we fast - we remind ourselves that food is not what keeps us alive. It's why we try and become generous people - because it's in giving things away that we remind ourselves that our value and importance isn't based upon our bottom line.

This is the same idea that is going on with Sabbath. Sabbath is an intentional time of rest. We stop producing, stop working, and simply rest. This is really difficult for us some times. Why is that? It's because in stopping that we are forced to realize that the world goes on spinning even without our efforts. We realize that it's God who keeps things moving, not us. When we stop and rest, we remind ourselves of our need for God, and that our value and worth don't come from what we produce, but from resting in Him.

There are many disciplines like this within the Christian faith. Giving, fasting, resting, silence, prayer, the list goes on. Each one plays an important role in freeing us from the belief that we can do this thing on our own. Rather we are reminded of God's presence in the everyday, the normal, mundane parts of life and that it is He alone who keeps it all running. It's not my efforts, not food, not the constant producing, not my words, not anything else.

I would challenge you to participate with us as a church community this week. Deprive yourself of the things that make you believe that you are the God of your universe, and let Him show you that He loves you, he cares for you, and that the world will keep on moving with or without your efforts. And while your body says "feed me", let your heart be reminded that the One who sustains all things will sustain you as well.

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