Desert Wisdom: Fasting (2)

Once we have the historical grasp of fasting in place, Bunge says we must turn to understanding the purposes of fasting.  He selects three, and we’ll use this week’s post plus the next two to explore them….

First, we fast to humble our souls (p. 92).

As we fast, we are reminded that we do not live “by bread alone” (whether the bread is literal food, or some other kind of materialism), but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Life, as the Bible defines it, is never fully defined or described in relation to the material dimension, because (as St. John noted) the world is passing away.  We cannot make enough trips to the gym to live forever.  Mortality is the final word spoken over every tangible aspect of life.

So, fasting moves us away from a “thing orientation” to a view of life that is truly substantial (eternal) by the very fact that it is not dependent upon any tangible object to make it real.

Fasting kind of “hangs the soul out to dry,” and in doing so we find that we can live (indeed, live better) when we are not attached to things which are subject to loss, decay, and death.

We fast as those who are humble, and as those who seek to increase in humility, which is nothing other than dependence upon God.  As Jesus taught, humility (as expressed in fasting) is not the way your face looks or how you drag yourself around “looking hungry” (so people will know you’re fasting), but rather it is a disposition of your heart toward God, symbolized in the fact that you are willing to detach yourself from depending on tangible things, to relying on the things of God.

 

About jstevenharper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 31 books.
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