I am fasting, but by the time you read this, I will be finished fasting. So, technically, I am not telling you I am fasting while I am fasting! But, I am fasting in the hope of encountering Jesus at a deeper level and experiencing His love for me in a greater way. I am hoping to worship Him with more of my life.
"But Antley, that sounds like religion!"
Well, it could, except that Jesus commands us to fast. It would be religion if I were doing it to get God to love me more or in the belief that He won't love me at all unless I do it.
We spend a lot of time at River City Church stripping people of added baggage that they have accumulated over the years, such as the lies they have believed that prevent them from experiencing the Father's love.
Lies such as the following:
- "God helps those who help themselves."
- "The church is not a place for broken and sinful people."
- "God will love you more based on your behavior."
- "There is such a thing as being a Good Christian."
But does that mean we do not practice the spiritual disciplines that Jesus did and that He commanded us to pursue?
NO! Of course not.
Jesus instructs us to pursue these disciplines because He knows that they will lead to intimacy with Him and life to the full. They take us outside our normal fleshly patterns and desires so that we can connect, live in, and be reminded that we are to find life in Jesus, not in what we see and experience in the "seen" world around us.
- Jesus studied the Bible.
- Jesus grew in His favor with man and with God.
- Jesus grew in wisdom.
- Jesus took time to withdraw and spend time with His Father.
- Jesus fasted.
- Jesus memorized scripture.
Theses are just a few of the spiritual disciplines that Jesus lived out and that we, as His disciples, are to live out. How, when, and what that looks like is personal, and we need to be led into the specifics by the Holy Spirit.
BUT, we need to be participating in the disciplines in a regular way. If we are not, we shouldn’t be discouraged or get down on ourselves. We should trust that this is the Holy Spirit leading us into life with Him. All it takes is the first step in His direction as He prompts us, and we will find a growing satisfaction in Him and His love for us.
At first it may feel difficult or awkward, but that is normal like any new thing that we start in our lives. These disciplines are also spiritual, so that too may make them feel awkward at first. We should press in and follow through; in the short and long run we will receive a deeper, richer, and more powerful life in the Spirit!!