by Jeff Wright
The call to fast ought not to be a throwaway line.
In almost five decades of deciding and trying to follow Jesus daily in life, I have seen the call to fasting used as a spiritual punchline far too often. Christians have a tendency to call one another to fast when they really, really want us to pray, or they really, really think I need to lose weight. Fasting often gets treated like the spiritual equivalent of hot fudge sauce on our vanilla ice cream intercessions … if we fast (or at least throw around the language of fasting), then our prayers must really, really be sincere, and we must really, really be spiritual.
Yeah, I don’t think so.
Fasting, if we are open to the spiritual habit, ought to be fun. After all, fasting at its best is about laying aside things that want to capture us – the 24-hour cable news, the screens we carry around with us, that second piece of pie. Fasting is about saying “no” so that we are able to say “yes” to increased time spent in the company of Jesus. Fasting opens the door joyfully to enable us to pray boldly and learn to forgive extravagantly. Fasting creates a pathway toward Christlikeness.
We’re into Pathways right now in Mosaic Conference. Our pathway begins with prayer and fasting and leads to discernment, which invites us to being formational, missional, and intercultural as churches. Then (and only then) the pathway will guide us to ask the pertinent question of whether or not membership in Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) helps or hinders us on the path forward.
My hunch is that MC USA membership is truly not a central issue in our walk with Christ. Finding the pathways to Jesus that bypass the over-stimulated world we’ve created and help us bond together as a church full of missionary disciples seems way more important than the current denominational feud. Fasting is a pathway to put aside the anxieties of our stuff, and listen thoughtfully to the Jesus who loves us, accepts us, and forgives us, even before we’ve thought to ask for it.
Maybe, if we begin the Mosaic Pathways Process with true fasting and honest prayer, where we end up in our discernment, and whose brand name we cherish, won’t really matter … because we will have rediscovered Jesus, our ever-present Savior, teacher, Lord, and friend.
Jeff Wright is a Mosaic Leadership Minister for California and the Intentional Interim Lead Pastor at Blooming Glen (PA) Mennonite Church. He is not an expert on fasting (lock up your pies!), but at this stage of his life and ministry, he is willing to give up a weekly slice of blueberry pie, his favorite, if it would help him discover new pathways to get to know Jesus better.