I’m hoping you were able to participate in Restoration City’s fast in some way this week. If you did, I hope God used it to ignite your hunger for Him and fuel a desire to see Him bear much fruit through us on Easter Sunday. I’m also praying this fast wasn’t a one time experience but rather a catalyst for renewed pursuit of God’s mission in our daily lives. Fasting shouldn’t leave us spiritually depleted. It should clear the ground for fresh life to emerge.
In order for that to happen, we need to remember that fasting isn’t as much about depravation as it is about pursuit of intimacy with God. If it’s only about seeing how long we can go without food, it’s a meaningless test of our willpower. In fact, you can be quite committed to fasting and quite displeasing to God. Consider His words to Israel through the prophet Isaiah:
Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?
God found Israel’s fasting wicked because it was an inauthentic attempt to manipulate God. They wanted to impress Him into blessing them more than they wanted to know Him. We can’t fall into the same trap – we didn’t do this fast to show God how awesome we are.
We’ve been fasting because we want to know more of how awesome God is. And if that’s the case, that desire will now be translated into action. Again, from Isaiah:
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
In other words, genuine fasting fuels sustained action for the glory of God and the good of others. God isn’t thrilled that we skipped a meal. He’s thrilled when we get so close to Him that His heart for the world starts to beat in us.
That’s our challenge in the weeks ahead, Restoration City. Don’t be impressed that we fasted. Be determined that others would see the greatness of the God we love. Maybe that means inviting someone to church on Sunday. Or connecting with one of our ServeDC ministries. Or getting to know a neighbor. Whatever it means for you, that’s the part God finds most thrilling!