The Passions of His Heart
I’m not sure about you, but every time I get on the computer these days I am inundated with news about the upcoming election. Over and over again, each side lays out their case for why their candidate is best and why the other is disaster for me and the country. My inbox is overflowing with emails imploring me to vote for Trump or Hillary. They plead, if I would just give $50, $25 $10 or even $5 dollars to the cause, I would make a real difference. Facebook is even more overwhelming. I’ve been sent messages by my Democrat and Republican friends sharing their point of view. I get it, elections are emotional and charged. People are unhappy with the state of the country and want tangible change. The next president will nominate supreme court justices and that will swing the court conservative or liberal for years to come. So, yes, this is an incredibly important election and all who have the privilege to vote should, and when doing so, should do so with great thought and prayer.
My greatest concern for our country however, is not who is elected as our future president. My greatest concern, is for the very heart of our nation. When I turn on the news, read emails or sign onto my Facebook page, I often shutter at the attitudes of many who call themselves Christ followers yet they seem to delight in the downfall of others. On one hand, they say they are praying and even fasting on behalf of our nation – but on the other – there are no tangible or clear fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control. Time after time, I am taken aback by what seems to be out right glee at the stumbling and faltering of others with opposing political views. Aren’t we supposed to pray for our enemies instead of rejoice when they fall?
Oh how I fear, we are quickly becoming a nation who has chosen the wrong fast that is spoken about in Isaiah 58. I fear we are, praying, fasting and calling on our God yet we are not choosing His ways, or the passions of His heart.
The Wrong Fast
“Yet they seek Me day by day and delight [superficially] to know My ways,
As [if they were in reality] a nation that has done righteousness
And has not abandoned (turned away from) the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me righteous judgments,
They delight in the nearness of God.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You do not see it?
Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?’
Hear this [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins] you find something you desire [to do],
And you force your hired servants to work [instead of stopping all work, as the law teaches].
“The facts are that you fast only for strife and brawling and to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You do not fast as you do today to make your voice heard on high.
“Is a fast such as this what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself [with sorrow in his soul]?
Is it only to bow down his head like a reed
And to make sackcloth and ashes as a bed [pretending to have a repentant heart]?
Do you call this a fast and a day pleasing to the Lord?
The Fast God Has Chosen
“[Rather] is this not the fast which I choose,
To undo the bonds of wickedness,
To tear to pieces the ropes of the yoke,
To let the oppressed go free
And break apart every [enslaving] yoke?
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not to hide yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood?
The fast that God has chosen for all of us is the most mercy filled journey any of us could every take. It’s a fast of self-sacrifice, abounding love, giving, forgiving, tender-mercies and grace. It’s a fast that requires great humility but will inspire others to love. It is fast that asks us to reach over boundaries, across political lines, and through criticism. The result however, goes deeper and wider than anything we accomplish on our own.
Isaiah 58: 8-12
“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your healing (restoration, new life) will quickly spring forth;
Your righteousness will go before you [leading you to peace and prosperity],
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry for help, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away from your midst the yoke [of oppression],
The finger pointed in scorn [toward the oppressed or the godly], and [every form of] wicked (sinful, unjust) speech,
And if you offer yourself to [assist] the hungry
And satisfy the [a]need of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
It’s Time to Stop – It’s Time for Amazing Grace
I don’t know about you, but for me, the promise of the Lord continually guiding me is enough to inspire me to the fast He has chosen for me. Of course, I know this election is important. But following the Lord Jesus is so much more important. He holds the keys to healing America and the world. No man or woman can do that. So, I pray, we all come to a place of humility where we embrace the fast He has chosen. May we all be filled with His mercy, hope and love. May we seek justice and love mercy (Micah 6:8) so the oppressed, the lost, the weary and the hopeless see Him through us, and ultimately find freedom in Him.
Listen, it’s time to stop the fighting, name calling, taunting, and lying. It’s time to stop declaring our own righteousness over others who hold differing opinions and points of view than our own. It’s time to embrace the very passions of His Heart so the world can be healed and restored. I believe, if we do this, God’s amazing grace will fill us. Why? Because being a people who live in best interest of others, is exactly who He designed us to be.