I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I have been mulling over several topics lately: fasting, guarding my eyes, and finding more time for prayer. Though they may seem to be unrelated the quote from Piper yesterday seemed to pull them together nicely:
It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.
Piper isn't saying that it is fine to indulge in wickedness or watch explicit videos, but that this is not the only issue. There is behaviour that is sinful and behaviour that is unhelpful. It's not just an issue of what we watch, but how much we watch. We must certainly deal with the former, but if we only deal with the former we will still be lacking. To truly progress in the journey of faith we must not just be prepared to set aside what is evil, we must also be prepared to set aside what is good in order to pursue the best. This is at the very heart of what it is to fast.
I have touched on this before when I wrote on the significance of the first and second days of creation. First there came a separation of light from darkness - God indeed wants us to be holy and separate from all that is impure and immoral. But then there came a separation of water from water. This was not a separation based on merit (one bit of water was as good as any other) but a separation of purpose - a discerning and separating what is "of above" and what is "of below." If we are to be heavenly-focussed and heavenly-minded we must sometimes separate ourselves from earthly things - not because they are not good, but because we discern a higher purpose.
We often think of fasting solely as a period of time spend without food. This is indeed the usual reference to fasting in the word. It is a great spiritual discipline that does much to help us lay aside distractions of the flesh to engage with the higher purpose of heaven. I'll maybe write more on this another time. But this is not the only way to fast. At its root fasting is not a religious and ritualistic denial of food - almost every religion has practices like this. It is a concious decision of the will to lay aside the good (whatever that may be) for the sake of the best - God himself.
Piper's words and a conversation I had with a friend last night has convinced me of another very effective fast for the Christian in today's world: a fast from television!
If you are pondering how you can spend more time in prayer, or more time in the word, or any other activity of the Spirit, the answer may be right in front of your remote!