Thursday, April 14, 2005

Isaiah 58:1-3, 6-10

Tell my people what's wrong with their lives,
face my family Jacob with their sins!
2They're busy, busy, busy at worship,
and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they're a nation of right-living people--
law-abiding, God-honoring.
They ask me, "What's the right thing to do?'
and love having me on their side.
3But they also complain,
"Why do we fast and you don't look our way?
Why do we humble ourselves and you don't even notice?'

6"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
7What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.

8Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The GOD of glory will secure your passage.
9Then when you pray, GOD will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, "Here I am.'
"If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people's sins,
10If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down--and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.

So, my question is, where do we start? I mean, I can go to Washington Street Mission once every 6 months...donate clothes to Goodwill....send money to any variety of ministries and missionaries....but what do we do about social injustice? About unfair wages? About freeing the oppressed and canceling debt?? Actually, I just got an email from Sojourners about a petition asking the President to work at the IMF, World Bank, and G-8 meetings to cancel all debts in several impoverished countries, without doing economic harm.

Already I'm anticipating some of my more conservative friends arguing about policy, economic theories...why it wouldn't work...why it shouldn't work.....but as a Christian, reading the text in Isaiah and throughout the Bible, why not just say, "hey - don't worry about paying back that loan". I think it could be as easy as that. Although I believe Christians should be involved in politics, is there any party in the US that's really going to make social justice and poverty a priority?

I don't think living a radical Christian life is going to make sense in the political world or the world of consumerism. I don't quite know how to do it, but I think we need to start doing something about social injustice. I often glance at David Lasley's away message link to info on Darfur, and think, "okay, that's awful...but what can I do?"

I'm done rambling....any practical, personal ways we can do this...even something CSF could take on...those thoughts would be appreciated.


Matt W said...

Preach on sister!

And tell me how to do it too!

Nanette said...

It is SO great to hear someone else get fired up about this stuff. I completely agree. As Christians we DO need to do something. Regardless of politcal views on the issues you mentioned, I think we can all find ways to do what God is calling us to do in Isaiah.

These issues are so important--they are the reasons I am studying International Humanitarian Law. So many problems...makes you think there has to be a solution.

There is a big campaign running in the UK right now to "Make Poverty History". I'm not really familiar with their political affiliations or backings or anything, but I'm just putting it out there. I first started to notice it because they have white bands that say the slogan on them, like the LiveStrong bands. Anyway, they have a lot of links to Chrisitan-based aid organizations that might be worth looking into on their website ( It also lists different ways to get involved. :)

Again, I'm not an expert, and I am sure there are tons of other ways to make a difference...your post just reminded me of this one. :)

Michael Tosh said...

ok..I don't want to be overly political on this but...

We can forgive debt...actually we have! The united states has forgiven billions in debt over the last 50 years...and we should because we are a moral people. but the question is what is my real duty to God?

To continue to forgive debt to countries that perscute christians and have miserable economic systems seems like a useless jester to me. They just recreate the debt...

so what christian conservatives like myself are saying we can forgive debts but we want some improvements made in the introduction of more capitalist freedom or a crackdown on christian persuction...many of these countries leaders refuse to do these things and pocket all the money. The oil for food program in iraq was a classic example...the money for the food never made it to the people we all wanted to help.

In short we have to balance the emotional response to forgive debts and help the poor with the reality that if we don't create some changes in these countries the money won't be used to help anyway...If we require some improvements in these countries in exchange for aid we can not only improve the economic life of people in those countries we can stop percuations and discrimination.

As far as social justice it falls into a smiliar belief...without a moral foundation for our country we cannot fix most social justices. That is why we are fighting this insane interperataion of Seperation of Church and State. A moral society can provide a moral system...we just don't want the federal government doing it...we want it on state and local levels because the federal government tends to screw up just about everything they get there hands on.

Put simply I think God wants us to help the poor and excuse debt. But how we do it must be wise as well!

Jesus said "Neither do I condemn you. Go, {and} from now on do not sin any more." NAB John 8:11
We need to require that the problems and sins (perscutions) be stopped.

We should forgive debts but be realistic. and we should help the poor but not at the expense of making others poor.

What conservatives want is not to just feel good because we are doing something...we want to feel good because we are doing something that works...

and we want it to be done privatly and not by government whenever possible. To many people feel they do not have to do God's work of charity because they think its the governments job since they paid taxes.

Isaiah, I believe, was talking about us as indviduals...not our government...we need to do the work...not expect a government that can't even balance its books to do it.

Just my thoughts on the matter...I think God wants results with the charity whenever possible...and Gretchen...

your getting good at this blogging thing :-)

gretchen lee said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Mike...I agree with you, that as in Isaiah, God intends for us to be the ones personally involved in social justice. We agree about politics...we CAN'T depend on the government to do it all... so we need to find a way to give involved!!
I'm looking for something practical, people!! :-)