True and False Fasting, Hegelian Dialectic, Time Person of the Year, and the J6 Tapes

True and False Fasting, Hegelian Dialectic, Time Person of the Year, and the J6 Tapes The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show

Recently asked to give a talk to the youth group at our church on a Wednesday night, my topic was what a healthy practice of fasting looks like. It seemed good to me to start by going back over some pertinent passages which tell us how not to, and which frame thereby both a spiritual and physical prescription for healthy fasting, as I see it.

Consider Isaiah 58:6-7, for instance:

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps 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 him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

That is, a healthy practice of fasting has to do with loving God by loving one another well.

Practically, we are told here to look to loosening bonds, undoing straps, freeing the oppressed, breaking yokes. We are told to feed the hungry, host the homeless, clothe the naked, and make ourselves available to our extended families.

Far from being unspiritual, this is given by Isaiah as a proof of the sort of spiritual discipline which God favors.

In Matthew 6:17-18, Jesus gives us still more to understand to complete the picture:

“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

That is, good hygiene and cheerful contentment are further proofs of the sort of spiritual discipline which God favors. Cleanliness may be distinct from godliness, but it is of a piece with it here.

We see what a healthy practice of fasting for the Christian is, then, in part, by being told what it is not. And sometimes that is a part of knowing what is true and good generally. We must rule out what is not true and good in a process of elimination.

Piety is laudable. False piety, on the other hand, is something of an abomination.

What kind of appearances we are keeping up must be first and foremost concerned with God seeing how we appear holistically. Yet we are told to let our lights so shine before all men that they see our good works, and glorify our Father in Heaven – and not gloomily, or under compulsion, since the Lord loves a cheerful giver.

It’s one thing to talk about how everyone should be free to choose, for instance. Maturity requires that we move next to a dialog about good choices and bad ones, since freedom can only be maintained on God’s terms.

That is to say, freedom isn’t free, but always comes with a cost – even an opportunity cost, since you are not free to do everything, all the time, without consequence. But good choices produce good effects, and bad choices produce bad effects. And even when good choices seem in the short-term to produce bad effects, the stabilizing agent necessary to not grow weary in doing what is good is to remember that God Himself works all things to the good for those who love Him, being called according to His purpose.

Those who are foolish would have us believing falsehoods are true, and evil is good. They would exchange bitter for sweet, then question our tastes when we object. If liars and lying are real – and they are – then we take note of who is not trustworthy, and we disbelieve them. Warning them once, we afterward have nothing to do with them.

If that means we don’t watch their cable news coverage, or read their magazines, so be it.

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