On Fasting

In Jesus we meet something unusual – a God who says No to himself.

Jesus desires comfort instead of pain, just like all of us.  But he lays aside his desires and says “Not my will, but yours.”  Why does Jesus empty himself of his prerogatives and privileges?  Philippians 2 says he does it because he is “in nature God.”  Why does he give rather than grasp?  Because that is simply the way God is.

“Getting what I want” is not a big concern in the divine life.

The Trinity is worlds away from the self-absorbed divine glory hog I believed in as a kid.  Jesus, his Dad, and their Spirit abound with glory, not because they’re really good at getting glorified, but because they’re having so much fun giving glory to each other. “Not my will but yours” has been on Jesus’ lips from th  days before his name was Jesus.

Being the son of Adam that I am, I am often preoccupied with getting what I want.

Why? Because deep down, I believe that getting what I want is extremely important.  Of course, this belief is total crap, and I know that.  But my appetite-driven behaviors indicate that I apparently still believe it anyway.

This is where fasting comes in.

Fasting is an exercise that challenges this deeply distorted belief that I just can’t seem to stop believing in.  To fast is to leap, by faith, into an experience of not getting what I want, in order to discover reality in a deeper way:  First, I learn that not getting what I want (food, TV, sex, chocolate) is really not so bad as I’d thought.  Second, I learn that there is Something Better out there which is far more worthy of my desires.

In fasting, I unmask my lying idolatries (things I think I need in addition to God) and discover I don’t need them after all.  And when my idols fall, I can see past them to the abundant life of Father, Son and Spirit that has been there all along.

When my rotten bottom-of-the-dumpster pizza is taken away, I discover the Feast that has been laid out for me from before time.

Happy Lent, everybody.

~ by John Stonecypher

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