No Substitutes: Because God is Enough

Have you ever embraced a sugar fast? Or maybe a social media fast? If so, have you noticed how often your fast from __________ results in a series of substitutions rather than single-hearted focused on Jesus?

I saw this play out so profoundly in my most recent sugar fast. Instead of that piece of chocolate after lunch, I grab a clementine. Sure, it’s healthy, but it is a substitute for a sweet fix. By 3 pm, when I’m craving an afternoon cookie, I turn to a gluten-free granola bar. It may not be as scrumptious, but it seems to work just fine to satisfy the carb craving. Instead of that glass of wine in the evening, I fix a hot cup of tea longing to douse it with honey but substitute with agave instead. Ahem. Busted.

When I turn to these substitutions, I’m not responding to the cravings and temptations and longings through fasting and turning to Jesus.

Oh mercy, why? Because I’ve unknowingly bought into the mindset that healthier is holier. How about you?

Yes, these healthier substitutions are good in the grand scheme of stewarding my health, but during this fast, they aren’t doing me any favors. The goal isn’t about succeeding in a spiritual weight loss program, although there is nothing at all wrong with that and in fact, a commitment to the stewardship of our body is a good thing! The invitation before us is to pursue deeper intimacy with Jesus as we crush the god of sugar in our lives – the god of addiction that steals our worship from the One True God and delivers empty promises that will never satisfy.

How should we go about pursuing that deeper intimacy and dependence on Jesus? I imagine this is what Paul had in mind when he penned his letter to the Philippians while he was in prison . . .

Yes everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Phillippians 3:8-9 NLT).

Everything else is worthless compared with knowing Christ and becoming one with Him.

Let that thought sink in for a minute.

Paul considered everything, including his effort, accomplishments, and status as a Hebrew of Hebrews worth nothing. He discarded everything that established his worth, credibility, and purpose, calling it garbage as he focused entirely on gaining Christ and becoming one with him.

What is the “everything” that tempts us to find security in and distracts from dependence on God? What needs to be fully discarded in our life to focus entirely on gaining Christ and becoming one with Him? It’s safe to say that sugar may have a leading role. Sugar distracts us. Sugar defeats us. Sugar demeans us. It is really no different than any other idol that consumes our attention.

Whatever the “everything” is that crowds out Jesus from our lives, now is the time to say “No more.”

Whenever you find yourself in your next fast, how about stepping up the commitment to become one with Jesus?

In the original Greek language, “become one with” is written as “may be found,” which is defined as “to come upon, hit upon, to meet with; after searching, to find a thing sought; to find by inquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, to find out by practice, and experience; to see, learn discover, understand, to be found, to be seen, be present; to be discovered, recognized, detected; to get knowledge of, come to know, God.” Whoa! Is that not utterly profound?

To become one with Jesus is a beautiful process of seeking, discovering, experiencing, understanding, and ultimately knowing Him personally.

So, when those cravings and temptations hit, instead of turning to substitutions, press onward toward Jesus alone, becoming one with Him.


This devotional reflection was originally shared in the 40-Day Sugar Fast Community.

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