Jesus said, “But when you are fasting, anoint your head and wash your face, so that people won’t realize you are fasting, though your Father, who is hidden from sight, will.”
— Matthew 6:17-18a (USC)
Fulfilling the Law and the Prophets was Jesus’ call. The Word of God came into the world so religion would no longer be devoid of the heart that eternally underpins the law. The chief priests and Pharisees would achieve the letter of the law – to diligently fast – but they usurped the blessings of God for themselves and, therefore, the missed the point, and they missed out! Theirs was no worship of God, but a worship of their very selves – what an irony.
The heart of Jesus through the Sermon on the Mount is the heart of all life – to begin with the heart as the only basis for the good works anyone can do.
And the heart of fasting as an act of worship is secrecy for intimacy with God, and the sanctification of our worship is our growth – which is only achieved if we keep our quiet, according to God’s will.
We could go so far as to say that a ‘worship’ that is rewarded in the world is baseless and useless in God’s economy. He may not even hear it, apart from the blasphemy of our doing a worshipful activity with a wicked motive. Worship – in this context, fasting – so we might gain favour of persons is worse than futile. It will invite the judgment of God
But there is good news in the doing of the secret things with a heart after God.
Imagine the power that is to be experienced in refusing recognition its way. Contemplate the grace with which God is ushering in and through us through our intimacy with him.
As we are praying with God in the mode of our fasting, our Lord is opening up our hearts and minds. We are saturated in the Spirit and revelation is the agency flowing through the veins of our souls, as his Word flows over us as we immerse ourselves in it.
The greatest blessing of experience is to feel embodied in the Presence of God. This is achieved when we are keeping a virtuous secret with God, which is to reject the temptation of hypocrisy.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. What holy secrets have you been keeping with God lately – remembering that holiness is something we can only experience whilst we are enjoined to the Lord’s Presence?
2. The claiming of credit from the world – the receipt of recognition for the ego – is not what we seek. What are the practical steps in rejecting the temptation to hypocrisy in your present context?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.