When You Fast…
In a recent article for Leadership Journal, John Ortberg relays the story of the “Three Christs of Ypsilanti” from the book by Psychiatrist Milton Rokeach. Each man was suffering from delusions of grandeur. Each one believed himself to be the Messiah, the savior of mankind. Given how deeply these delusions were entrenched, Rokeach had very little success in breaking through them.
But his efforts didn’t go completely unrewarded. Rokeach realized minimal progress when he got the three men together. His hope was that each one, when confronted with the reality of a competing messiah, would be forced to reexamine his own identity.
This led to some interesting conversations. One would claim, "I'm the messiah, the Son of God. I was sent here to save the earth."
"How do you know?" Rokeach would ask in response.
“God told me.”
But then one of the other patients would counter, "I never told you any such thing."
Even this particular strategy met with very limited success. But it did help. A competing claim to the identity of Christ at least game each man reason to pause and rethink things.
It could be said that you and I suffer from the same affliction as the three Christs of Ypsilanti. It’s just a matter of degree. We are also capable of deluding ourselves into thinking that we should be in charge, that our wants and desires reign supreme, that we are the authors of this story. We all make some veiled claim of messiahship.
And like the three men in the study, we are freed from any such false claim when confronted by the real thing. We can’t come into contact with God and continue to think that we ourselves are the ones in charge. God (mostly gently, sometimes not) relieves us of our blindness. And this is a good thing. It’s good to see things in a more accurate lightly. It’s good to let go of our own illusions of control. Then we are free to lean on the Everlasting Arms.
I say all of that to say this: The passage that we’re going to look at on Sunday talks about fasting and the purpose of fasting. And that purpose is to bring us into contact with the Living God, so he can heal our blindness. I hope you’ll feel led to do some fasting of your own. Not so that you can be seen and appreciated by the rest of us, but in order to be seen and to see God.
Robert Lee