Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fasting: Political or Spiritual?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
   to loose the bonds of injustice,
   to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
   and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
   and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
   and not to hide yourself from your own kin? 
                                                 Isaiah 58: 6-7

Having just eaten a banana and a piece of coffee cake, I started looking in my Inbox.  And there was this e-mail from Bread for the World President David Beckmann.  The headline read Fasting as an Offering to God.

David and former Congressman Tony Hall, who now heads the Alliance to End Hunger (a Bread partner), are asking us to fast, not necessarily to make a political statement, but to use it as a tool for spiritual growth.  It reminds us with a strong exclamation mark that food and nourishment are a gift from God.  It is also a symbolic emptying of ourselves to bring us closer to God.

Here's what David and Tony say in their invitation to join them.
Bread for the World is a public policy advocacy organization, and our reason for being is to urge our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. We believe God wants this for our country, and we have joined other religious organizations in forming a circle of protection around programs that meet the needs of poor and vulnerable people.

One aspect of our fasting is to ask God to make us more effective in this calling. But our fasting is not a political club to use against those who disagree with us; it is an invitation to our nation to seek God’s deliverance.
So here is the dilemma.  How do we make this fast primarily about spirituality and not necessarily about politics? The thought is: What is the use of fasting if we don't get any mileage out of it?  Think about it this way. Depriving our bodies of nourishment is an act of solidarity with those who do not share the blessings that we have been afforded.

So yes, the political aspect of our fasting is there; but not on our terms.  If our fasting is to make a statement, God will provide the means. Or perhaps we are not meant to make a statement.  A good guide is Matthew 6:17-18

So if you are led to fast the rest of this season, click on  This Link to make your formal commitment.

Also, read what Bread for the World member, Pastor Lynne Hybels, writes about fasting in the context of what is written in the book of the Prophet Isaiah.

1 comment:

Zach Schmidt said...

This is an excellent piece on the Lenten fast, Carlos! Thanks for helping us properly frame this action as a spiritual undertaking to draw closer to God, with any public "statement" being in God's hands.