Wednesday, March 26, 2014
One of the spiritual disciplines to which the Invitation to Observe a Holy Lent calls us is fasting. It is also the one discipline we are least likely to practice. Of course, Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 6:16-18) that we should not make a show out of our fasting. Some in His day who practiced it religiously did so in order that everyone would see their fasting and think good thoughts about them. However, it is only important for God to see, but I have a strong suspicion that even God has trouble seeing any evidence that we practice this particular spiritual discipline. When something is not done, it is impossible to see.
Doing without food is counter-culture. Most of us would go even further and say that doing without food is counter-everything! Eating is what we do. We are active members of a consuming culture. Being hungry is not a pre-requisite for eating. We eat out of boredom. We eat to be on schedule. We eat to fill emotional emptiness. We eat because some advertisement tells us to eat. We probably spend more time eating, or thinking about eating than any other daily need.
So, choosing not to eat is like being naked. Suddenly, we have nothing behind which can hide. Suddenly, we run headlong into realizing that we are living to eat instead of eating to live. Suddenly, we begin to see a life that is racing out of control. Suddenly, we see ourselves as one of those who hungers for much more than is needed while hungering very little for God. And it is then that the words of Jesus begin to eat at our heart, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."