Today’s inspiration comes from the ancient text recorded in the book of Isaiah. The introduction to the most significant prophetic work in the Bible includes this rebuke:
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17
Isaiah’s words are strong and powerful. Through the first five chapters, we find strong words against our forefathers, coupled with few words that promise restoration. The rebellious nation will be held accountable! Their transgressions are intolerable and are a testimony against the Mighty One of Israel.
The verse that precedes today’s text amplifies its significance:
Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong. Isaiah 1:16
Stop doing wrong! These words may come from the mouth of Isaiah, but they are from the Lord. They sting and burn because they were valid for Israel hundreds of years ago. It seems they are every bit as relevant to our postmodern culture–without the threat of Assyrian invasion or Babylonian exile.
Isaiah tells the people there are many things they are doing wrong; modern instances of meaningless worship gatherings that we might experience today. Please read chapter one to get the full impact of his words, especially Isaiah 1:13-15.
The focus of this blog, however, is to emphasize why we serve the marginalized in our communities. I don’t want to be naive and cherrypick Scripture out of context. Isaiah’s point here is that they are rebellious when they should be doing what is right. They should be seeking justice, defending the oppressed, orphans, and widows. Apparently, they are not doing any of these things.
The question for the churches we serve and for us, are we doing the same? Are we known for seeking justice? When did we last defend the poor? Shouldn’t we lead the fight for orphans and widows?
When we look back at the tumultuous history of our forefathers, we are tempted to mock them as fools, but I’m afraid the mirror doesn’t lie. If I’m completely honest, I’m pretty sure I’ve submitted meaningless offerings and participated in worthless assemblies.
My friends, this must not be our story.
Let us learn to do that which is right and just. May we be known as the fools that stood with Christ to take up the case of the least, the lost, and the lonely.
I’m excited to work with non-profit organizations that are doing much of the heavy lifting in seeking justice and fighting for the poor, but it’s time to mobilize the church. I’m confident there will be little argument about the concept; instead, implementation becomes the sticky point.
We need to focus on efforts that work in concert with others, not going against the grain. The secret is defining what we are passionate about in terms that are not selfishly motivated. In other words, we need to defend the poor because they have no defense otherwise, not to promote one organization over the other. Our concern should focus on the people.
There are no easy answers, but that is not a valid excuse for doing nothing. Throughout the Bible, we see example after example about caring for those who can’t care for themselves. If it’s that important to the Mighty One of Israel, it most certainly should be important to us.