“Is not this the kind of fasting have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”
A fast is a choice. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah gets pretty irate with God’s people when they make fasting a religious requirement. Look up the passage and see – it’s a pretty massive wake up call. Speaking through Isaiah, God says that he’ll ignore it when people try to please him with enforced rituals that are about going through the motions rather than a response of the heart.
Whether it’s fasting, singing songs, going along to church – God doesn’t care – he wants our hearts to be transformed and our lives to clearly show of His love for others. True fasting is about doing justice, setting the oppressed free and loving others. It’s not that the rest is bad, it’s just that those things are a response to a relationship with God, a reflection of our hope to know Him more. And if we really know Him, we know what really is on His heart.
This isn’t just an angry Old Testament prophet we can ignore. Jesus makes the same point. He publicly slated the religious elite for their ritual obedience to tithing herbs or cleaning dishes, but ignoring justice and service to the poor (Lk 11v39-40).
Do we know all the latest worship songs, get the t-shirts and follow the right celebrity Christians on Facebook? Great – but do we know and act on God’s heart?
It’s there throughout the Bible. Don’t just go through the motions. Know God – truly know him. Learn what’s on his heart and then respond. This challenge was set by Isaiah, then a few hundred years later by Jesus. 2000 years on, it’s likely this is still a problem for those of us trying to follow God.
So what is it for us? Do we know all the latest worship songs, get the t-shirts and follow the right celebrity Christians on Facebook? Great – but do we know and act on God’s heart?
If you’re not sure what is on God’s heart then try these: standing up for justice, serving the poor, being gracious, loving, kind and servant hearted.
Well, a fast is a choice – a choice to limit some of the luxuries (usually food) that we enjoy, all in the hope we can know God more. It’s about clearing space to allow God to speak. God comes first, and a fast helps us make that point to ourselves – we give up all else for a time so we can hear his voice better.
But it’s not just those of us who have stuff to give up who fast. In North Korea, where Christianity is under a complete blackout, secret Christians, most likely with very little in terms of possessions, will fast for up to 10 days before deciding whether they should start any evangelistic projects.
They really need to know what God wants before they start any public confession of their faith – as it could cost them their lives. This isn’t about going through the motions, this is about desperately, passionately wanting to know God and act on what he says.
This November we’d love you to join us, and thousands of others, on a fast. We know God cares about Christians who are persecuted for following him, and so we’re going to choose to go silent online to raise prayers, money and awareness.
We’ll be Blacking Out or fasting from everything internet related (yep that includes Spotify, Instagram and FB) because we want to give time to connect with His heart and be changed. This is a choice, and one that will bless Christians who really know the true cost of following him.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.