Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fasting

Do you guys in your churches ever set aside days to pray and fast - is it as easy as five steps? I struggle with fasting (its a flesh thing) and the fact that I feel conviction to fast yet rarely do normally means I should.

We in Christianland have always associated fasting with not eating food (which it is), but God seems to have a deeper mode of fasting that is vital for a community. If we as communities fasted as per Isaiah 58, this kind of fasting makes me weep.

Maybe if we act in this way:

to break the chains of injustice,

get rid of exploitation in the workplace,

free the oppressed,

cancel debts.

sharing your food with the hungry,

inviting the homeless poor into your homes,

putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,

being available to your own families.

or if this is the authentic way our communities actually live then we would find that we live in a state of permanent fasting - read Isa 58 and let it sink in and think of the implications of not fasting this way.

Saints at Tapestry - me thinks we need to meditate on this passage

Dave

6 comments:

Dinsy said...

If Bill Bright's 5 steps to prayer and fasting are as accurate and helpful as his 5 principles of Christian growth, I think we won't bother with it (unless we want the amusement value).

I haven't read Isaiah 58 yet, it is easier to criticise Bill Bright than to do some actual work myself, (it's those planks and specks again - they get everywhere don't they?) but I promise I will read it soon.

Stand by for the questions Dave.

Dave said...

See http://www.peacemakers.net/unity/carnal.htm for more info

Dave said...

Thanks Sue, yep I used the Bill Bright thing because it opposes completely biblical fasting by believing that five basic steps cover it, this is the way with a reductionist gospel.

I have never fully read his 5 principles, but I do know that the Campus Crusade teachings, including things like Masterlife, are based in the heretical teaching of carnal and spiritual christians.

Many churches teach this by perverting Pauls words in 1 Cor 3:3, but any church who does this will end up weak and unable to truly lead people to the stream of life.
We must build on Christ and His word, whilst Bill Bright and others preach a gospel that sees three classes of men, (unregenerate, carnal christian and spiritual christian) the Bible teaches two only - in effect Gods peoples and the nations.

Lookin forward to the questions

dinsy said...

I am completely untaught on fasting. I have been in two churches where we were told to fast on one specific day, because something that was considered to be important was happening in the church. We weren’t told what to do, so I just didn’t eat anything, and apart from that lived a normal day.

Isaiah 58 is indicating that there is more to it than just going without food for a while. It made me think of Hosea 6:6 and a section of Psalm 50 where the sacrifices are being refused by God because they are not acceptable – He does not need sacrifices but He wants us to show mercy, to acknowledge Him as God and to live in thanks to Him.

Presumably God gave instructions about fasting as He did about sacrifice? Do we need to go back to these texts to understand the purpose of fasting? I think we can agree that as with sacrifice we are not doing it for God’s benefit but for our own.

The only things I remember Jesus saying about fasting was telling people not to make it obvious in order to win the praise of men, and the discussion about John’s and the Pharisees' disciples fasting, but Jesus’ disciples did not. (The bridegroom.)

Isaiah seems to be describing “sacrificial living” (loving your neighbour, the sheep and goats passage, Sermon on the Mount are similar NT texts) rather than fasting as such. Am I missing the point? NEED INPUT!

dinsy said...

Thanks for the link to the article on carnal christians by the way, I would recommend anyone who has had this teaching to read it. The false assurance of salvation points are particularly important. I knew the teaching felt wrong, but I thought it was the "salvation for eternity rather than for christian living here and now" that was bothering me. Now I know there is even more wrong with it than I thought.

Dave said...

The whole issue of fasting is taxing us right now, it seems that Isa 58 speaks of a true fast whereas numerous OT and NT accounts speak of calling a fast, invariably around food it appears.
So is Isa passage setting a blueprint for fasting, as with prayer, as with giving. Is it the heart of Psa 50 that is being conveyed - what I mean is that it seems possible to me that all these ordinances or sacrifices have to flow from a true heart, an Isa 58 heart?
I think we need to see this more clearly, yet I feel that somehow fasting is the tip of the iceberg, and what we need to be availing ourselves of is the Sermon on the Mount and Paul's theology of weakness - what say you?

 

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