Thursday, August 5, 2010

True Fasting

One of the words the scriptures use in order to cast some light on our human existence is vessel or a container. I have had some problems with this manner of describing our humanity. However, I have come to learn that this is a wonderful description if properly understood. Most of us appreciate that words just are shadows of how things really are. They are not the thing itself. To be called a container thus merely covers one side of the complexity of our being. The vessel analogy is very valuable and liberating due to the fact that it alludes to a thing that cannot fill itself with the help of its own frail powers.

To assert that a container can fill itself is indeed a ludicrous contradiction. A glass cannot fill itself. Someone outside and greater than the glass pour the liquid into it. However, we are vessels which have an inclination towards wanting to fill ourselves. That’s perhaps the whole point with the vessel analogy. Man embarks on mission impossible and is repeatedly frustrated by his efforts. The law is carefully designed to disclose this fact and to reveal our nothingness as containers.

Legalistic ministries encourage believers to fill themselves with good deeds, right behavior, a successful prayer life, love and all the other things we associate with being a Christian. Since we haven’t fully understood in what way that we are fearfully and wonderfully created we rededicate ourselves to God again and again and promise to do better with His help. Of course, this is a sure path to failure. In fact every attempt to live according to outer regulations is an attempt to fill oneself. There is only one solution to our dilemma; give up, rest, simply live and let Christ fill us with Himself. We are created to contain someone, to be filled by someone and that someone is Christ.

A vital point in this regard is that when we were born again He filled us with Himself. We are already filled, but we do not know it yet. What really happens when we attempt to live the Christian life is that we perpetuate an illusion of separation, that we have a life of our own when the opposite is the actual reality. Hence Christ is revealed in us when we come to the end of our self efforts. Finally, our true standing begins to seep into our consciousnesses and the redemption we have been craving for isn’t a far off reality anymore.

Herein lies the magnificent liberty Jesus promised His disciples. When we discover that He is our life we cease to struggle towards an unattainable goal, and we acknowledge that every moment of failure is a valuable reminder of our nothingness. We are now in a position where we can accept ourselves with everything we are and leave it completely to Him to perfect us in our perfection in us in His time.

If we examine fasting in this light it dawns upon us that fasting is not a physical discipline, but a Spiritual discipline. True fasting is to abstain from any self effort. It is to cease from observing the law or any other outer regulation. It is abandoning the idea that we can fill ourselves with right attitudes, thinking and behavior. It is vacating trying to forcefully cultivate any fruit on this human tree by what we think are cleverly devised methods. The moment we realize this tremendously liberating reality we begin to eat. Our food and drink is Christ. He is the only food we will ever need. He is the one that fills up our spiritual stomachs.

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