If you are participating in our fast you know how it feels to be different in an entirely new way. You haven’t eaten since Sunday and you might think you’ve seen more food and eating in the last 48 hours than all of last year combined. That’s how it goes when you step away from normal American life and give a large part of yourself to God for a short season. Eating is central to who we are. It can relate to our ethnic heritage, it draws us into community, it affects our bodies for good or for harm. To eat is human, to fast is… well, you get the idea.
I’m convinced that one of the reasons God’s people were called to fast is so that they might be reminded that they were ultimately NOT of THIS WORLD. In fasting, we put aside a regular human experience and practice something normal people hate – SELF DENIAL. In fasting we tell our bodies they are not in charge of our impulses and we force them to cleanse, detoxify and start using fat storages to get by. Fasting is one of the best ways you can express a living faith in God because you are deliberately saying no to what you see. We walk by faith and not by sight.
So press on in the fast! You’re learning it is OKAY to be different. When people at your work head off to munch on lunch, you find a place to privately pray to your Father who sees what is done in secret and rewards you. It’s okay to be different. Tonight when you usually set the table or begin to cook, you can put those things aside so that you can draw close to Jesus. It’s okay to be different. Tomorrow morning when you say “no” to what many call “the most important meal of the day” you can feed your spirit on the Living Bread from Heaven (Ephesians 6 according to our Fasting Guide this year). It’s okay to be different.
Today’s culture is rapidly changing in ways that demand the Christian stop wavering between two opinions. From sports to education to politics to entertainment, our Country which claims to believe plurality is a good thing inherently accepts only a plurality of unanimity. (That is, what the most vocal and most powerful approve of is true for all). A Christian in the first century faced this same type of latent hostility but with far more drastic expression. Rome was fine with Christians worshipping Jesus as long as they joined in pagan religious feasts of the Empire in honor of Caesar. Many Christians were forced to decide publicly to not participate and they paid with their lives. They proclaimed to the world and set an example for future generations of Jesus followers (us): IT’S OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT!
This is what God is showing me most in my personal prayer time and I wanted to encourage you with the same message. If you are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20) and your ultimate home is in the age to come, then you should feel slightly uncomfortable with the present age. Embrace it. It’s your divine assignment. Jesus said, “you are the salt of the Earth… and the light of the world” (see Matthew 5:13-14) which means you are not like “normal” people. You are called to be light, not “liked”. You are here to declare it IS possible to be spiritually disconnected from the gravitational pull of “having the good life” now.
It’s okay to be different. People notice “different”. The world needs someone different. And we are different by His design.