While we are in the season of Lent (the church that I go to celebrates what apparently is a holiday that has biblical precedence and founding) for the first time, I come up to the concept of fasting, something that I haven’t really thought about for a while.
Especially with the Personal Spiritual Growth class under my belt, I really think about the things that we do/are supposed to do in a different way: as disciplines (most of them: some things are more fundamental than this). The thing that I want to share about that I learned during the Winter Retreat was the (discipline of) fasting.
- A way to say, “God, I want to be hungry for ___. Let it be a request for me to hunger as I hunger for ___.”
- A way to be weaker (this is especially true with fasting from food) in order to let God work more, to depend on Him more.
- A sacrifice of praise. When we sacrifice something we desire, put God ahead of it, that’s a sacrifice of praise. You will find that the things you fully give up tend to be returned to you or something even better is given in its place.
This brings me to my second point that I learned in Retreat and have been learning for a while that I’d like to share:
When we love ourselves as God loves us, such as not questioning our intrinsic worth (which was proven at Calvary), we are better able to receive God’s love and love others as a result of our overflowing love and will do a natural, genuine outreach to them.
What does it mean to love yourself as God has loved you? A passage I came across in Retreat seems to give some answers:
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
— John 13:1–5
Now there are many things that I think to be worthwhile to learn from this passage.
It was just before the Passover. Jesus was aware “that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.” That is, he knows he is to be crucified soon. He leaves with his disciples a meaningful lesson.
Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. Alright, so what Jesus is going to do is going to be a true, full and deep expression of His Love.
The devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. We would do well to learn from His example to be aware of other’s impure motives yet still be able to love others fully despite their impure motives.
Now here comes the important part:
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so [He] began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him
— John 13:3
Recall that in context, Jesus, the master, the Rabbi performed one of the lowest of low activities: washing his followers’ feet. This activity is usually reserved for the lowest servant. Anyhow, lets break it down:
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power. Jesus, while on earth, recognizes the source of his power
…and that He had come from God. Let us never forget our calling, where we come from. God is our origin. He is the giver of our worth.
…and was returning to God. Death is Gain. Jesus received comfort from the fact that death cannot separate us from God. In fact, it’s just the opposite. God is our Destination
Put the three together and we can see how Jesus had made God his purpose and thus was able to be secure in himself and thus extend his love and lay his life down for his disciples and the world.
Next: What I’m learning now is “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”