Mark 2:18-22 (NLT)
18 Once when John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting, some people came to Jesus and asked, “Why don’t your disciples fast like John’s disciples and the Pharisees do?” 19 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. 20 But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
In my junior year, I got to study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. I wanted to experience Scottish culture, which meant Friday nights at the Student Union pub. I also wanted to meet other believers in the Christian Union. Each night the CU would gather directly above the pub to hear a “come to Jesus” talk. The problem was that they had all come to Jesus long ago. The folks who needed the message were downstairs, laughing, dancing and enjoying themselves. The CU managed to stay above it all, quite literally. But being above it all meant being separated from the people who hadn’t met Jesus yet.
The religiously serious Pharisees and John’s “roughing it for God” disciples fasted because they believed that a person’s character was influenced by what they ate. Fasting helps us practice dependence on God and reveals what we often cover up with food – anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear. Fasting helps us live balanced lives, showing us how we allow nonessentials to take precedence. Jesus declares that, when he leaves, his disciples too will do the inward-looking work of fasting. But Jesus also declares that his coming is cause for celebration. The disciple’s job is to let everyone know they are invited to the party!
I stopped going to the CU and went to the pub instead. I would laugh, dance and enjoy my friends. They wondered why I switched from beer to Coca-Cola so early in the evening. I would tell them that I was there for them, not for the cheap drinks. As they saw the rest of my life, they learned that I was there to be with Christ who loved them and who never needed to be above it all.
Jesus, show me the people from whom I have remained distant, withholding Your love. Help me love them as extravagantly as you do.
Dialog discuss: We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own. Bill Hybels, 30-year pastor at Willow Creek