True Fasting 2.25.24
Jerry Beebe


The 40 day church season of Lent is a wonderful time to recognize our mortality and approach the Lord with humility, sorrow and repentance.  As Gail Johnsen states in her book; Lent:  An Opportunity to Start Again, Lent is a time for the spring cleaning of our souls.  To allow God to “expose those places in our hearts that have become cluttered with things.”  It’s a great opportunity to recognize our total dependency on God and to remember our need for grace.

One Lenten discipline is that of “fasting.”   For many that means giving up meat, chocolate, snacks or something like screen time that absorbs hours that we could be spending with Jesus in prayer, meditation and solitude.  We need to be careful, however, that our fasting does not become ritualistic or done out of obligation.   The people in the Old Testament were severely chastised by the prophet Isaiah because they didn’t realize fasting needs to be exemplified in compassion, kindness and acts of service.  In Isa 58: 6 – 9 we read about righteousness.   Well, we all want to be righteous but that word is the same root word for “justice.”   Thus, as Johnsen points out, “the connection between righteousness and justice and providing for the poor must not be missed or minimized.”

In the Scriptures we find over 2,100 verses about justice and the care for the marginalized, the poor and the oppressed.  Thus, as Isaiah says, “Learn to do good.  Seek justice.  Help the oppressed.  Defend the cause of orphans.  fight for the rights of widows.” (1:17)  It’s not a popular message today.  Many conservative Christians will reject it as being too Democratic or Marxist or Liberal, or even Woke.   But as followers of Christ we must be attentive and obedient to the principles of God’s Kingdom.   So, kudos to all who have given up something for Lent but remember, that spiritual discipline is not complete until it is living in compassion for others.

How can you serve the poor, help a stranger, defend a widow or seek justice for the oppressed?   I’m pretty sure that if we are open, the Lord will give us the opportunity and the grace to minister in His name.