Fast Food

By Not Known

Fast food surrounds us in the form of instant mee, curry puffs, kaya toast, pau and such like. It gives a quick ‘fix’ but it rarely satisfies and much of it is nutritional junk. When we rearrange the letters ‘fast’ food becomes ‘fats’ food!

There’s another fast food and it is good for us. That’s the fast where we don’t eat at all. It’s a deliberate choice to do without something for spiritual purposes.

Fasting is an established devotional practice in many religions and certainly in Christianity. We may fast for a fixed period of time (eg, for the whole day before our birthday) or on a periodic basis (eg, skipping one meal every week.)

Before Jesus, fasting was prescribed on certain occasions (eg Lev 16:29-31; Zech 8:19). It was done voluntarily at other times (eg Jon 3:5-8). Jesus assumes that his followers will fast as routinely as we also pray and give charitably (Matt 6:1-18). He gives a twist to fasting in his own example of choosing to miss lunch in order to do God’s work (Jn 4:32-34). Can we skip a meal sometimes to talk with someone in God’s name, help a needy person, or immerse ourselves in preparations to serve?

Christians have fasted through the centuries in order to dedicate themselves to seeking God’s presence, guidance or provision for their needs. Fasting is often accompanied by intense prayer, meditation and Bible reading. It is a way of detaching from the temporal and material to attach to the spiritual and eternal.

Fasting has its dangers. We may fast in a way that draws attention to ourselves with a smug attitude of superiority. Jesus counters this by saying that our fast is to be kept between us and the Lord and deliberately concealed from others (Matt 6:16-18). Another danger is to think that the act of fasting alone pleases God. Isaiah points out that fasting must be matched with a life that pleases God (Is 58:2-10). Fasting is not a means to become God’s people or to gain his favour. Rather it is a response to being his people and receiving his favour. Thus John Calvin speaks of how our whole life should be a fast.

There is a godly pleasure in enjoying the food that we eat (Ps 104:14-15; 1 Tim 4:1-5). We need no encouragement to this in Singapore! However, can we consider fasting as a complement to this pleasure? It’s a way of reminding ourselves that life is more that what we eat and it’s a way of showing God that we treasure the ‘food’ of his word, will and presence.

Let’s enjoy eating the food that comes from God. Let’s also enjoy the fast food that takes us to him.

David Burke