Isaiah 58

I wish you could see it. I wish you knew how far you were from me. I don’t know whether to be sad or angry with you right now. You act like you are walking the line, keeping to the straight and narrow. You wonder why I’m not changing your life… I wish you could see the truth.

“They seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God.” (58:2)

The way I see it, your fasting and praying and singing and scripture reading are empty. Look at your relationships! Take a look at where your money goes and how your time is spent and how you treat the people around you! Shouldn’t fasting and prayer and worship change you? Shouldn’t it lead to more than words? I’d rather you didn’t do it at all…

“Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers… Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.” (v. 3b-4)

The point of all these commandments was never the ceremony. The point was loyalty, a new identity for you… as MY people. The point was justice, peace with me and with each other. I made you to be my witnesses to the whole earth—that is who you are! You are not a social club; this is not a spectator sport. You are a people of priests, mediators between me and all of humanity. You’re supposed to bring the Kingdom on earth, show the way, right the wrongs, ACT like my people! Ceremony without obedience is worthless… it’s meaningless. Quite frankly, it’s crap. Ceremony backed up with obedience… that’s beautiful.

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (v. 6-7)

If you only knew how you were keeping me at a distance. It breaks my heart. You’ve become just like the people all around you who don’t know me. The Gospel is not about getting your ticket to heaven, a ticket out of hell. It’s about union with me, finding your identity in me. It’s about our relationship. It’s about having new eyes, a new heart— like mine— a heart that bleeds for people, eyes that see with love and compassion and righteousness, hands that work to help people in trouble to restore justice. The Gospel changes you, forever changes you. It’s a light that burns away the darkness in you, and then begins to burn away the darkness all around you. When you have been with me, people know the difference.

“If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted; then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” (v. 9b-10)

At this point you’re probably wondering what I want. “What do you want from us, God?” I want to heal you. I want to heal the world, this whole messed up, sick, dying world. This is my creation! I want to walk with my people again. When I gave you the Law, it was so that we could have a relationship. When I gave you the Sabbath, it was for your good and the good of everyone. It was supposed to be a day that we could all enjoy together. But when you do these things for yourself or for show or for your reputation or just because you “should”, you are missing the point. I wish you could delight in me, in being with me. I wish you would let me in, let me heal you and then together, we can bring the Gospel into the world.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day… if you honor it, not going your own ways or seeking your own pleasure… Then you shall take delight in the LORD and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth… for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (v. 13-14)

I was a pretty good kid growing up. I didn’t rebel, didn’t do the “bad” things… I did what I was told, for the most part (even if sometimes I did it with a bad attitude, because I was, after all, a teenager). But I remember the day very clearly, when I was older and married and out of the house… a rare and special day when I was visiting my mother in Ohio—at the time I was living in PA. We were sitting down for coffee after Dad had left for the office. She finished washing up the kitchen counter, reached for her coffee cup and sat down next to me. She quietly took a sip from her mug, then sat back and looked at me, with that look that mothers get when they have something important to say. I was surprised to see pain in her eyes.

She said, “You know, Kris Anne, when you were in high school, you were a good kid. You did your homework, practiced piano, went to church and youth group and did your chores. But it didn’t seem like you really wanted to be with us, your family… it didn’t seem like you wanted to do anything with us… almost like you weren’t really a member of our family, just someone who lived here. That hurt me—I didn’t know what I had done to make you push me away.”

Until that moment, I never thought about the pain I had caused my mom when I kept her at a distance, when I held my heart, my whole self back… by just going through the motions instead of TRULY BEING her daughter.

Love longs for true intimacy, and God is love. Intimacy with God through Jesus Christ, changes who we are in the world.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: