When’s the Last Time you Fasted?
Is. 58:6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 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 them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
This call to fasting in Isaiah is rather unique. It is not just a personal fast from food, but instead moves into a fast that touches others. This is a foretaste of Jesus’ approach to the law. Love of God must flow into love of others. Therefore fasting cannot simply be about my personal spiritual growth, but must also be a fast that points toward social engagement, loving care for the needy, and giving up “finger pointing” in return for personal action. It is in an active fast that touches our world that the light of God is reflected. In this way his light will shine before us, leading and guiding us through life.
I am challenged by the words today. Fasting has never been easy for me and yet it is something we are called to do. Now, this scripture takes us beyond what we traditionally think of as fasting and challenges us to do so much more. How often have we thought about our actions towards others being a part of our fast — our spiritual discipline? Maybe not often enough.
The challenge for us today is take upon ourselves the self-discipline of fasting. This includes the type of fasting which helps us with our personal spiritual development. John Wesley our theological church father fasted two days a week — on Wednesdays and Fridays. It was his practice for his entire life. But he was also very engaged socially, pushing for change within his world. Years ago I heard Tony Blair on BBC radio refer to the impetus for social change in England, and that it from John Wesley and the Methodist movement, and should not be credited to a political party.
We are all called to fast. Our fast is to be a reflection of our love of God and love of neighbor. May God challenge us to reconsider our engagement with fasting.
Lord, thanks for moving me out of my comfort zone today. Amen.
Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.