They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating
and drinking.¨ Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time
will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.¨ -Luke 5:33-35 NIV
This past fall, I had one of the rare experiences of life: my favorite team, the San Francisco Giants,
won the World Series. They haven’t won it since before I was born, so it may be a once-in-a-lifetime
experience for me.
The morning after the series ended, I logged onto a forum that follows the Giants. We no
longer live in California and I wanted to bask in that moment with others who shared my euphoria.
To my shock and irritation, the first post documented how many of the Giants players were
in the final year of their contract. The writer agonized over how many might sign big contracts with
other clubs, how expensive it might be to keep them, and what moves the Giants should make to
stay on top.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Not today!¨ I was willing to concede that planning for the future
is important, and such topics were common fodder for that forum, but the timing stunk. That was a
day for celebration and for enjoying the accomplishment of our team. Worrying about next season
could wait a day or two.
The Pharisees came to Jesus implying that his disciples were not as devout as John¡¦s
disciples. After all, John¡¦s disciples fasted and Jesus’ disciples didn’t. Jesus argued that both groups
were responding to their situations appropriately.
There are those who see our Christian walk as something to be taken seriously, and
meditation and fasting should be the defining characteristics of our lives. There are others who see
our salvation as something to rejoice in, and our lives should be marked by joy and celebration.
Which approach is right?
Our physical lives are too complex to limit ourselves to one kind of response. Sometimes we
laugh and sometimes we weep, sometimes we crawl and sometimes we soar. Why would we expect
that our spiritual lives would be any less rich?
Our walk with the Lord is just that – a walk, a lifelong walk. The journey we travel will wind
though mountains and valleys, meadows and deserts. Jesus was teaching that there will be times to
fast and times to feast, times to celebrate together and times to meditate alone, times to dance over a
World Series title and times to worry about who will play shortstop.
Father, help us to see our faith as a walk not a technique.
– Pastor Bruce Steffensen, Interim Pastor, Holiday Park Church of God, Portland, Oregon