Wednesday, September 30, 2009

God is the Gospel: Fasting

In this next post in the series of going through Piper's God Is the Gospel, I have very little to add to his comments, mainly because I don't have much experience with fasting, and also because I don't think I have anything better to add. But let it land on you, and let it shape your understanding of what food and drink are, what fasting is, and how we're to do all things to the glory of God.
Why did God create bread and design human beings to need it for life? He could have created life that has no need of food. He is God. He could have done it any way He pleased. Why bread? And why hunger and thirst? My answer is very simple: He created bread so that we would have some idea of what the Son of God is like when He says, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35). And He created the rhythm of thirst and satisfaction so that we would have some idea of what faith in Christ is like when Jesus said, "He who believes in me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). God did not have to create beings who need food and water, and who have capacities for pleasant tastes.

But man is not the center of the universe, God is. And everything, as Paul says, is "from Him and through Him and to Him" (Romans 11:36). "To Him" means everything exists to call attention to Him and to bring admiration to Him. In Colossians 1:16, Paul says more specifically that "all things were created by [Christ] and for [Christ]." Therefore bread was created for the glory of Christ. Hunger and thirst were created for the glory of Christ. And fasting was created for the glory of Christ.
This last paragraph is the point, and should be read very slowly:
Which means that bread magnifies Christ in two ways: by being eaten with gratitude for His goodness, and by being forfeited out of hunger for God Himself.

When we eat, we taste the emblem of our heavenly food -- the Bread of Life. And when we fast we say, "I love the Reality above the emblem."

In the heart of the saint both eating and fasting are worship. Both magnify Christ. Both send the heart -- grateful and yearning -- to the Giver. (pp. 140-141)
As you eat, as you drink, and as you give up both for love of the Reality above the emblems of food and drink, let your heart spring up with gratitude and yearning to the Giver of all good things.

...and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God;
and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.
- Romans 14:6 -

Whether, then, you eat or drink
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 -

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