“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says:
‘In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength (Isaiah 30:15).’”
It was during a time of national upheaval that the prophet Isaiah announced this Word of the Lord. It’s tempting to read these words as strictly religious language—that is, if God’s people would learn to repent and rest in God their spiritual lives would be buttoned up and put in order. Actually, these words are highly political in their context. While God’s people were tempted to go make military alliances with ungodly people in an effort to protect themselves, the Word through Isaiah counseled them to repent, to turn back to God their creator and redeemer, and to rest, to trust in the steadfast love of God. It is as though Isaiah was saying, ‘If you really wanted to change the situation of the country and the world, be the ones who repent and surrender to the power of God.”
We often think of repentance and placing our trust in God in strictly private ways, but the Bible makes it clear again and again that real, ongoing and sustainable change for communities, nations, indeed, for the world itself, will only occur as God’s faithful people—a remnant within creation— are themselves willing to remain on the journey of transformation. We have said this repeatedly now through these weeks of Lent: to be Christian is to be on a journey of transformation. And that journey of transformation is crucial for the world. This is the principle of the lump of leaven in the dough: A people who are continually being transformed into the likeness of Christ will infect the world with holiness. That is the world’s best hope!
When asked what was wrong with the world, the great English writer G.K. Chesterton responded, “I am.” He was not being unduly humble in this regard; he was simply acknowledging the truth. We Christians are called to begin with ourselves, to be, as Gandhi famously said it, the change we wish to see in the world. We have no mission in the world unless we ourselves are being renewed in the power of God—and then spread that renewal abroad.