It’s curious that religious activities are routinely not merely ignored, but condemned, in the stories of the Bible.
Isaiah 58 is one such story calling out false vs. true worship. Or to put another way, what you do vs. what you say you’ll do.
It seems no matter how much you go to church and hang out with church people, if your faith stays within the confines of scheduled church routine God does not see your worship. In Isaiah 58:3 the vanity of religion was the norm, everyone looked like fantastic weekly churchgoers, to put into the modern vernacular.
But that’s not what’s important.
The measure of faithfulness is to loose the bonds of injustice, let the oppressed go free, share your bread with the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. (Is 58:6-9).
How are you doing with that?
There is a formula here: God’s treatment of worshippers is correlated to their treatment of fellow humans in need.
When we pursue this activity then Lord guides us continually (Is 58:11). But not only that, this work has a direct connection to a new future for our own city and neighborhoods.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets to live in.
Before we feel inadequate or ‘too busy’ (maybe you are too busy, and that’s something you need to balance out) this isn’t a call to more but to restore–a shift in what you’re already doing.
God’s interests for us are rooted in our pursuit of restoring our neighborhoods and beyond. That’s the crux of how we can say, “yes” to God’s unfolding Kingdom dream.