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God Commands Humanitarianism

Mekong Children

photo © 2009 Kyle Ramirez | more info (via: Wylio)

Many Christians believe God is only concerned about the state of a person’s soul. This is not true. God commands us to take care of physical needs too.

I discovered this reading the Bible through this past couple of months (I’m following a 90-day schedule). This week I’ve been reading the book of Isaiah, a prophet during the time the people  of Israel had some pretty awful kings and their country had been divided.

Chapter 1 pretty much knocked me on my butt. God tells the people, through Isaiah, that being all “church-busy” is sin when we turn our backs on the helpless and defenseless and fail to work for justice. Look for yourself.

“Why this frenzy of sacrifices?”
Gods asking.
“Don’t you think I’ve had my fill of burnt sacrifices,
rams and plump grain-fed calves?
Don’t you think I’ve had my fill
of blood from bulls, lambs, and goats?
When you come before me,
whoever gave you the idea of acting like this,
Running here and there, doing this and that—
all this sheer commotion in the place provided for worship?

Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more!

Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You’ve worn me out!

I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way.

Sweet old lady beggar

photo © 2006 Nathan | more info (via: Wylio)

No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.

I’ve been thinking and praying about how I can exchange “church-busy” for the kind of action God calls people to in Isaiah. While we are supposed to function as part of the body of Christ, which is the church, and serve one another, clearly this can go much too far. I don’t want God to look the other way and refuse to hear my prayers.

I’m curious — how do you do good and help the helpless within the context of your life and work?


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