A phrase has developed in recent years describing Christianity that in actuality is misleading. The phrase is radical Christianity. A strange name for what should be normal. But “normal” Christianity is radical when compared to world norms. The way we think, act, respond and treat others should be against the norm…or radical. We respond to hate…with love. We respond to violence…with peace. We respond to greed…with generosity. We respond radically.
Not only do we respond differently, in the Christian faith there are some givens…those things that we should know to practice in our lives. We don’t need to ask God if we should, He has already told us in His Word that we should. We don’t need to ask if we should love others…God has already told us that we should. We don’t need to ask if we are our brother’s keeper…He has already told us that we are.
Matthew records in his Gospel what I like to call the “three givens”. Jesus speaks of three things that are expected of believers. Not “ifs”, rather “whens”.
Note what Jesus says:
First: Jesus reminds us we are to be givers…
Matthew 6:2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
Secondly: We are to be a praying people…
Matthew 6:5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
Third: We are to fast…
Matthew 6:16 “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
Do we really expect a breakthrough with God without the spiritual discipline of fasting? We do okay with the first two…we give and we pray. How do we choose to skip the third?
This New Year’s Eve we will begin our year with a time of prayer at City Church. And as we do this, I am also encouraging those of us who can, to begin a 21 Day Daniel Fast (a Daniel fast is basically fruits, vegetables and water). If you think that may be too much for you, let me encourage you to commit to 21 days of a limited time of prayer and fasting: fast from certain things during that time…fast for 12 hours one day a week. Anything to remind yourself during these 21 days, that we are waiting to hear from God. We all begin somewhere, so let this be a start of some discipline in our lives.
And also, during these 21 Days, let me encourage each of us to read Matthew 6:1-18 every day for 21 Days.
Looking forward to hearing what God is doing in your lives during these upcoming 21 Days!
Dr. Robert McCarver