Monday, 21 April 2014

Fasting and too much

Reflecting on my change of eating pattern recently - and my consequential loss of weight - I suddenly realised that I am not only enjoying eating less - an odd thing to say I know - but also the benefits of doing so. For example I don't get out of breath climbing hills, I am thinking more clearly, fitting my clothes and enjoying the food I do eat a lot more. I generally feel lighter and more healthy.

I think the answer as to why this is so is because God designed us this way. We are not designed to do anything to excess. Whether that is alcohol ("do not get drunk with wine" says Paul rather than do not drink wine at all), or sex, our country, our hobbies or anything that can take over our life or become enthroned in our heart in the place of God. This is why fasting - exercising control over something to bring it back to moderation - is good. It ensures that whatever we are obsessed with then gets dethroned so that God is once again Lord alone. Fasting is a way of reminding ourselves that the only thing that we should ever get obsessed with is God himself. And I don't mean the things of God either - Church, prayer, the Bible etc - because they are not God Himself but a means to getting closer to Him. Its a subtle difference I know but that is where we are at our weakest, discerning the difference, and that is where the devil strikes.

That is why Jesus says what at first appearance seems rather odd to us in Matthew 7:21ff: "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord,'will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." When those whom he addresses then give a list of good things to do - prophesying, driving our demons and performing miracles even - Jesus is unimpressed. His answer however drives to the heart of what I have been saying: "I never knew you. Away from me you evil-doers."

We may be prophesying, demon-driving, miracle- working Christians but unless our main focus and obsession is Jesus then all the rest is just window-dressing.

So we need to be wary always - "keeping watch" the Bible says - against all possible idolatries, even the good things of God, lest they take the place that is reserved for Him only. Fasting - not just from food, but everything that can overly preoccupy us (supporting the Swans for example) - is therefore a good way of putting into their rightful place those things that can, if we are not careful, take the place reserved for God alone. He is the only One we can or should love with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Even our neighbours we must love only to the level of ourselves and not beyond.


Ann Owen said...

Reading your earlier posts regarding prayer, your calling, your tendency to pessimism, your apparent effect on some of your parishioners, i wonder whether the missing ingredient might be...listening? To God, I mean

Mark Williams said...

Hi Ann,

Spot on.


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