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« Happy Christmas! | Main | Giving Up (continued) »


Beat Attitude, writing hymns in Scotland

"when you fast"...

Jesus was talking to people who were accustomed to fasting as a regular religious practice, and his point was to ensure they did it in a way that glorified God, and not themselves. So I think we need to be careful about legislating fasting based on this verse.

The principle of fasting is self-denial, of teaching yourself what is more important by denying yourself something else which you have allowed to become too important.

I've been thinking about *belief*, and how we say "I believe x" but our actions (or inaction) betray that we don't truly believe x.

I think that belief has two levels:

First- we concede to a principle which is contrary to our prior understanding.

Second- we engage with the ramifications of this truth, and apply the results logically to our actions.

How often do we stop at the first, and thus allow truth to wither rather than take root?

The second aspect: application...this is our chance to make truth into reality. By testing, we attest to it. Our faith grows inevitably, because it is rooted in truth.

Lent is just an opportunity, or a challenge, to apply what we believe, because we agree in principle that it is good for us to demote something we value, in order that something more important (which we currently undervalue) can take its place.

It recognises that our lives are filled with things, and we, by necessity, allow certain things to take precedence over other things. It is a chance to step back and practise the principle of reordering your priorities.

I find that Lent is especially useful if you don't habitually engage with this kind of thing. Fasting is also useful for the same reason. It can sharpen the focus on our priorities.

But in fasting, we need to check what we are making space for. Giving up sweets is good from a health perspective, but it can easily be a Godless decision: we can do it because we worship our body-image.

Giving up computer games can be good, in order to spend more time with your family. But we can worship the rewards which family life bestows, rather than the God who gave us our families.

Lent and fasting is primarily for focussing us on Christ. If we are not left in awe of him, deeper in love with him, more desperate for the bread of life, then we have sacrificed at some other altar: we have prioritised something else which itself does not have the power to transform us like Christ does. No matter how good a thing is, there is only one thing that can save us. Nothing has the transforming power of the gospel.

It's important to recognise too that Christianity is not about self-denial. This reordering of priorities can happen as we enjoy God's blessings. If I can eat a mars bar to the glory of God, then great. But if I struggle to even thank God for his provision, then perhaps I should try going without to remind my stubborn brain that every good gift comes from God.

Well done on vlogging Nick. Hope my reflections are helpful, and hope it goes well bro.


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