Faith and Unbelief. Day sixty-eight...
I remember clearly those days when I tried to perform for God like a little dog might try to perform for its master.
I lived with the hope that God would pat me on the head and tell me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
But I am not a dog who has to please my Master with my performance.
I am a man who gets to please my Lord with my faith.
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)
Understanding the difference between performance and faith certainly affects how we view the fast.
If I fast to increase my performance ability, I have effectively decided that grace is measured out to me by my performance. In fact, I am increasingly convinced that most Christians believe the grace they experience is measured out to them by their performance. And what better way to perform than to fast—John the Baptist's disciples certainly thought so.
Then they said to Him, “John's disciples fast often and say prayers, and those of the Pharisees do the same, but Yours eat and drink.” Jesus said to them, “You can't make the wedding guests fast while the groom is with them, can you? But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them—then they will fast in those days.” (Luke 5:33–35 HCSB)
John the Baptist's disciples fasted under the discipline of the old covenant. But from what He says, Jesus implies that fasting is not even possible in His presence. It is in His absence that fasting will take place.
In other words, to be in the presence of God is to eliminate the need for the fast.
A radical view? Maybe. But does the Bible talk about fasting in Heaven, when we have no human nature separating us from God?
Could fasting be a way of getting into God's presence?
What can separate us from the love of God (the presence of God)? The Bible teaches us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35 NKJV)
So if we “feel” like we have been separated from God's love, what (or who) has separated us?
If no third party can separate me from the love of Christ, then I can think of only one other source that could possibly be the culprit. And that culprit is me! I am the only one who can separate me from the love of Christ. Or, rather, my human nature (my flesh) is the only thing that can keep me from experiencing God's presence.
My human nature lives by its senses. My human nature continually tells me that God is nowhere to be found.
- I can't see God.
- I can't smell God.
- I can't touch God.
- I can't hear God.
- I can't taste God.
My human nature (my flesh) continually tells me that I can't count on God—that God is not who He says He is, and does not do what He promises in His Word.
Doesn't this sound a lot like unbelief?
Maybe the fast is meant to attack unbelief by taking a stand against my human nature. What better way to take a stand against my flesh than to say “No!” to what it wants. What better way to bring my human nature and all its appetites under control than by refusing to give it what it wants.
Wouldn't that naturally kill unbelief and increase my awareness of God's presence—and, consequently, increase my faith?
Have a good weekend,