When Worship Won’t Cut It…

I began reading the book of Isaiah today, so I’ll be writing about Isaiah for a while.  I love that book.  It is not usually a book out of the Bible that people point to as one of their favorites.  It’s a book written by a prophet trying desperately to warn the people of God to turn, or be destroyed.  That is NOT why I love it.  It’s often dark, and painful.  That’s NOT why I love it.  It has some very graphic warnings of what God is going to do to the people who hate Him.  That’s NOT why I love it.

I love it because the whole theme of the book is “a remnant will return.”  At it’s heart, it’s a book about grace and forgiveness for anyone who wants it.  THAT’S why I love the book.

It all begins in chapter one with the warnings.  God, through Isaiah, is telling the people that He is tired of their junk.  He’s tired of them coming to church and singing and saying one thing, while living a whole other life the other days of the week.  He tells them to quit singing songs to Him, to quit offering sacrifices to Him, to quit coming into the church and messing it up.  He doesn’t want anymore praise and worship services from them.  Instead, He tells them:

Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.  (Isaiah 1:17)

That always catches me.  God is tired of the hypocrisy and fake faith of his people.  But He doesn’t give them lectures on how to run a better worship service, or how to confess their sins corporately on sticky notes and make a clean break.  How are they to show their faith is alive?  Take care of “the other”.  The poor, the oppressed, the fatherless, those without family, the lonely, the needy.  Help them, then I’ll know you are legit.


So honestly, where are we with this.  God says an actual faith will live itself out in our daily lives, and it will involve how we treat “the other”.  Who is your other?  A neighbor who is alone and needy?  Someone at work who is broken?  A family member who is alone and alienated?  That kid in the hall at school who is poor?  Who is the other in your life?  How are you treating them?

According to God, that seems to be more important than what goes down on Sunday morning.  

How are we doing?