Our theme for 2018 at City View is practicing the spiritual disciplines together (The Year of The Dojo) and we are currently engaging the practice of fasting as a community. Fasting is simply refraining from food or water for a designated period of time. We have chosen to fast from sundown on Wednesday evening to sundown on Thursday evening as a church. We hope you can join us.
What a lot of people forget is that fasting was a staple weekly practice for the early Christians and was something that was practiced for centuries by the church until recently, where it has become somewhat of a forgotten discipline.
One of things we are doing throughout these six weeks is taking time to share a number of reasons why we fast. We are asking the question: why would we, who have so much at our disposal, give up food for extended periods of time?
One of the reasons we fast is because fasting is an act of whole body worship.
Now we don’t have a lot of time to look at the depth of Plato’s philosophy, but one thing that is unescapable is that Plato drew a sharp distinction between the body and the soul. The soul was good, while the body was perishable and temporary. The problem with this kind of dualism is that it has penetrated Western Christian thinking. Plato’s idea that the body is a prism for the soul is one that a lot of Christian’s hold. The problem with this is that the Scripture is clear that what happened to Jesus in resurrection is awaiting us in the future age (1 Corinthians 15). Quite simply, our bodies are important. We don’t have a body, we are a body.
A lot of Christians don’t see the connection between spirituality and our bodies. Like Plato, they are waiting for a day to float away and invade a disembodied state on clouds in the sky like the Philadelphia Cream Cheese lady. But God’s people in the Scripture (both Israel and the church) always did spirituality with their bodies. The Apostle Paul even had the audacity to say that our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. We worship with our bodies—they are living sacrifices.
With this idea in mind, it always makes me kind of chuckle when someone gets animated at a concert or sporting event but shows little to no expression in a worship gathering. It’s no secret that people will raise their hands to the newest Top 100 hit or jump out of their seats when their favourite team scores a goal. Why? Because we worship (and I’m not just talking about God) with our bodies. This is why the Scripture always calls us to raise our hands, kneel, shout, sing, you fill in the blank. It does this because worship has always been a full body experience.
And this is what fasting joins in on. Fasting is one way we bring ourselves into complete expression under God (Scot McKnight's idea). When we refrain from food we are able to express to God that we not just worshipping him with our soul and our minds, but we are whole being, including our body, which is placed under his lordship and rule. We are not just brains on sticks, but humans that give our bodies to God.