A destructive pursuit after an “image”

Originally posted on Facebook June 26, 2019

“Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways…they delight to draw near to God.”

Isaiah 58:2


We don’t want to be wrong or bad.


To avoid this, we create definitions of what is “wrong” and “bad”, followed by examples of how we are not either.


When we mess up, “we didn’t mean it.” When we operate out of bias or privilege, “I’m not racist, though.” When it comes to faith, “I’m trying to live a good, Christian life.”


We hold good intentions in front of us like a shield. We do so even if others around us are being hurt; we will pull our shield just high enough over our face so we can’t see it. We will protect ourselves with justifications and imagination to avoid conviction.


The Israelite people sought God daily and fasted; they delighted to know His ways, to draw near to Him. And yet, Isaiah 58 exists, a bold call against a people who were sinning (vs 1), who neglected the judgments of God (vs. 2), who sought themselves and harmed others (vs. 3+).

It is as though they were indeed seeking something, but it was an image of God, not God Himself.


There are too many moments in my life when I had convinced myself I was seeking and honoring God, when I was actually just pursuing what I wanted.


Isaiah 58 is also a bold call from a loving God, telling His people how they can actually seek and know Him; how they can honor Him, how they can be restored.

It is a call to address the injustices and oppression around them (and by them), to give of what God has given them to care for others, to function as family.

It is a picture of a future far greater than anything we could create, accessible to them if they simply turn from their ways to His.

This call is for me. It is for us. Our loving God sees us as we are, and still promises us a hope and a future.


But it starts with recognition. It starts by owning that we, like the Israelite people, may believe we are on point but may actually be in opposition to God’s ways. It takes acknowledging and repenting for the ways Christians have allowed injustice and oppression to continue, and even forged their own. It takes recognizing God is not calling us to occasional charity, but a lifestyle of “loving our neighbor.”


We don’t want to be wrong or bad, but “None is righteous, no, not one” and “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Even the best of us has missed the mark. But we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3)


Are we — individually and corporately — shielding ourselves behind an image of self-defined righteousness at the detriment of our neighbors, or are we willing to actually humble ourselves, saying “only your way, Lord,”, to accept the gift and make the heart of Isaiah 58 into our way of living?

~~~

Read more at www.wheredidyouseeGod.com/writings

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