Imagine your ideal day —if you had a whole 24 hours to spend however you’d like— how would you spend it? You’d probably plan to do some things you usually don’t have the time for in a normal day.
Most days, it probably seems like there’s “not enough time in the day” to do everything you want and need to do. You might want to have quiet time with God, go for a run, work on a painting, or explore a part of town you’ve never been to, but the busyness of life can get in the way.
In order to do things that bring us joy, rest, or productivity, we have to be intentional about the way we spend our time. We have to consciously make space for things that should be a priority, even when that means giving up one activity to make room for another. Intentionally making space by sacrificing one activity for another is similar to fasting from something.
Many Christians prepare for Easter by fasting from something for 40 days. Sometimes, people fast in order to live a healthier life by fasting from chocolates or other sweets. Others fast from certain purchases to steward money more wisely or fast from technology and certain websites to spend their time more effectively.
It can be challenging to give up something you’re used to for six full weeks, but it can be easier to do when you replace it with something new. This week, we’re exploring what allows us to experience life to its fullest by examining how we define a full life and what distracts us from living life as God intends us to live.
Often, the way we are tempted to define a “life to its fullest” is different than the way God intends us to. In Luke 4, Jesus prepares for his public ministry by fasting for 40 days. During this time he is tested with three temptations.
Consider how each of these temptations differ from life to its fullest as God intended.
What does it mean to experience life to its fullest? In this text, Jesus is tempted to put a human definition on life to its fullest rather than God’s definition. Jesus rejects the first temptation to break his fast by choosing instead to continue trusting in God rather than his own self-reliance.
Next, Jesus rejects the idea that life is about his own power by choosing to worship God rather than power and the things of the earth.
Lastly, Jesus rejects the devil’s temptation to test God’s will. When things are difficult or not going our way, it is easy to test our relationship with God, trying to bend God’s will to meet ours.
Each temptation offers part of what many would view as a “full life,” but Jesus instead chooses a faithful life. How do you sometimes choose your own definition of a full life rather than God’s intention?
Before we move on, take time now to complete the activity attached to this week, “Fast”. After you think through and complete the activity, then continue to this week’s challenge.
Answer each of the following questions – write each answer within its own box. Be honest and respond to each question as you assess your thinking and defnition of a “full life.”
Youth are finding creative ways of fasting to connect with God. Check out how youth in New York, USA are making room for Jesus in their lives by challenging the role of cultural consumption and convenience habits in their lives.
Often it is hard to be conscious of how our actions impact our neighbors, let alone someone on the other side of the world. However, in a world that is becoming more globalized, we are all connected. Much of the food we eat, clothes we wear, and things we purchase are from other parts of the world. In particular, not all products have an ethical supply chain. Some products are made in places with poor working conditions, where workers are unsafe, are abused, overworked, or underpaid.
More than 27 million people are trapped in forms of slavery around our world today. Many of the items we purchase on a daily basis are made using slave labor. Most of the time we just don’t know about how things are made. Even if we do, we often don’t think twice about making slave free, organic, local, or fair trade purchases because these can be difficult to find or seem overly expensive.
It is often tempting to take the easy way out and continue making daily decisions without thinking about where things come from or how it impacts others. In Luke 4, Jesus faced temptations, but he pushed past them to do follow God’s will. And in Matthew 22.34-40, Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord and to love your neighbor as yourself. Our neighbors are not just the people in our communities; loving your neighbor means being aware of how your actions affect lives around the world.
In 2011, InterVarsity university students in New York City started a movement called LOGOFF, which stands for Local Green Organic Fair-trade and Slave-Free. The movement challenges each of us to realize how our everyday choices connect and affect us all. Many students are joining the call to love their global neighbors by participating in the LOGOFF movement.
Hannah, a university student involved in LOGOFF, has been able to speak about purchasing fair trade items at her university, even making changes to what some departments purchase. “The choices you make can either perpetuate inequality or be a catalyst to freedom,” she says. It requires a sacrifice, but making decisions that help the greater good of others brings us into better relationship with our neighbors, and ultimately leads to experiencing a full life.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE:
Fast from at least one thing that distracts you from experiencing God and life to its fullest.
This could be an activity or an obligation, but it can also be a relationship, a way of thinking, or a manner in which you interact with someone. Fasting will help you create time and space for the next six weeks as we explore new ways to experience life serving God and those around us.
Next, create a visual reminder that will inspire you to stay committed to your fast. This can be a piece of art, a photograph, poem or writing – anything that is meaningful to you. Keep it somewhere you will see it often.
Lastly, share what you are fasting from for 6 weeks with others by creating an action on the global sharing platform.