E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973) said…
To pass from estrangement from God to be a son of God is the basic fact of conversion. That altered relationship with God gives you an altered relationship with yourself, with your brother man, with nature, with the universe.
Isaiah 58:3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
Many Christians speak a lot about revival and conversion these days. We believe that it is the key to the solution of many problems in our land. We have to focus on prayer, fasting and seeking God’s will for our lives. It is right that we do it.
But what kind of conversion and revival is necessary? Maybe you ask immediately if there are different kinds of revivals and conversions. Maybe not. Maybe we just misunderstood what real conversion and revival are. From Isaiah 58 it is clear that we can in no way separate our devotion to God from a sincere care for others. The prophet says that real fasting consists of social justice: ‘‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? (58:6, 7). According to Jesus, almost all these things will again be mentioned when God finally judges us (Matt 25:31-46).
Only when we understand that true commitment to God, the sincere seeking of his will, make us stand up from our knees to make this world a better place, yes, only then will we see the glory of God (58:8). Only then will God hear our prayers (58:9-10).
God’s will is not unclear. We don’t have to go on a retreat to find out what it is. We don’t have to fast about it. We know what it is. Revival in our land will break out in our land when the people of God stand up for justice and righteousness, look after poor people, start building projects to provide shelter for the homeless and displaced, provide medical care for the helpless, share our bread and clothes with those who suffer. This is true revival and conversion.
Lord, bring revival in our hearts, so that we will go and live our gospel amongst broken people, in Jesus’ name. Amen.