Beyond having church
Isaiah 58: This is the kind of fast days I’m after….
The people Isaiah ministers to know how to do religious things. They stay busy with worship activities and doing what we’d call Bible studies. They practice prayer and fasting, spiritual disciplines that need some serious attention in the lives of most of us Christians today. However, they’re dissatisfied with the results of this frenzy of religious activity and complain to God about it. The Lord’s reply, through Isaiah, focuses on their failure to translate their “church” activities into their everyday lives. If they want to please God they’re going to have to tackle injustice, exploitation, and oppression in their world. They’re going to have to not just fast a meal or a day, but to share their food with those who are hungry, invite the homeless into their homes, and show loving concern for the needy of the world. Aren’t you glad that, these days, we just have to believe in Jesus and not worry about all that extra stuff? You know that isn’t true. Could it be that the problem of the powerless Church is that we think all our religious activities is what God wants when he’s clearly stated his demands in passages like this one? I do want God to answer my prayers and I want his blessing on my life. Maybe it isn’t that I don’t fast enough meals as much as it is that I don’t care for the hurting, down-and-out people he sends into my life.
Take Away: There’s more to religion than just going to church on Sunday.
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