Tony holds Gods mirror to our faces in this hard hitting article for us to look at the issues close to Gods heart.
Have you ever watched someone do something and wanted to say, "Who taught you to do it that way?" A typical reaction might be, "Who do you think you are to question my motives or exactly how I do things? This is none of your business! Who made you God for the day anyway?" If you happen to be less fortunate than most when you ask, you might even have to deal with a harsher onslaught of verbal abuse. Either way, life goes on in these ruins of the tower of babble in which we live.
Today in some cities, a person could be shot dead for asking such an
intruding question. After all, isn't the way a person does something
rather private? The President Clinton years taught us something about
that. If privacy is sacred, who then if anyone, has the right to
violate that space bubble that makes someone feel so right at home?
Lets face it, we all have our way of doing things and we all think
it's the right way or most of us would be doing it some other way,
Well I've been in the ministry for over 30 years now, and unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view, I have seen too many things. I have been in the huddles of the poor and incarcerated all my life. Performing concerts for over 900,000 inmates and countless numbers of drug addicts in Rescue Missions or rehab centers. Has it been difficult? Yes, make no mistake about! Has it been enjoyable? Yes, but not all the time! Has it been uncomfortable? Yes, many times. Then, why would you do this, you might ask? The reason is because I have never forgotten the pain of living on the streets, hopelessness and of being desperate to leave this life of pain.
In 1971 at the point of suicide, living in the gutters of "Skid Row", Chicago, Illinois, I was radically changed by the power of God. It was far beyond my ability to think. As a matter of fact, I had taken so many drugs that I couldn't think any more. The only thing I did well at that point in my life was talk to trees and they talked back. That's right, talk to trees and they talked back. You read it right the first time. Don't ever try it.
It wasn't until 1985 however, when I first read the Book of Isaiah, chapter 58 that I realized that the Lord wanted His people in the streets, in the prisons and in other "tough and uncomfortable" places to share His love. I will never forget the Military Park CitiConcert series that we (The Solid Rock Ministry) hosted in Newark, New Jersey USA. We had ninety-seven volunteers, representing many churches within the New York Metropolitan area. We came in contact with over two hundred homeless people during those concerts who needed some type of help and not one church represented was prepared to help a destitute person. Wow! What a shock! What a great "Reality Show" this would make! But, could the church of today face the music? I don't think so!
Whenever I get the opportunity as I speak in churches, I like to ask, "How many of you are familiar with Isaiah, chapter 58. Now I don't want to build a case on one chapter, so most of the time I would add other scripture references that deal with helping those who suffer. Embarrassingly enough, the response is below two percent.
What an indictment against a people who say they reflect the love of God. What is the answer? I don't know. I've been wrestling with this question most of my life. Perhaps it is the teachers, pastors, etc. Maybe we need to ask them. I'm sure some would answer and say, "This is the way I was taught" in seminary. Well, then maybe we need go further up the pipeline to the education centers where many of our pastors are taught and see if they have an answer for the question.
No matter how far back we care to go down this corridor of "cause and
effect", we will always end up at the doorstep of Adam and Eve. So,
lets blame them and get the guilt off our backs. Sounds easy enough
doesn't it, but it won't work.
Our reality check must be bounced off the backdrop of Isaiah, chapter 58 that seems to imply, "Who Taught You To Do It That Way?" In verse five it says, "Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself?" Now get this, the Lord is saying this to a religious people who sought him for right decisions, acted as if they were a nation that did what was right, and seemed eager for God to come near them. But, God stays away from them as though they have the plague. Interesting, isn't it.
A closer look quickly shows that they obviously had it backwards because in verse six it says, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-and when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?"
The whole problem with these religious people in Isaiah's day is the same problem we are facing today. People like to look religious, sound religious, do religious things but when it comes down to where the "rubber meets the road" (for those who have never heard that phrase, it means the hard places) forget about it.
But what if we could just make this problem go away into never-never land. Some could say, "Those verses are for the people in Isaiah's day. I know God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow but this chapter doesn't apply to me." Wishful thinking! The very real and much bigger issue is found in verse one, "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins."
Oh how we hate to use and hear the word "sin" in this politically correct world of today. Well I'm sorry! I'm just a street person who only knows how to call it like it is and unfortunately it isn't looking very good these days.
It has been over thirty years that we have been pulling people out of churches. No, I didn't say, taking them from churches. We simply bring people on to the playing field where they are intended to function. And, time and time again we hear people say, "I never thought it would be like this, I can't wait to go again". Why? Because this is where people can be involved in the real action. It is one thing to watch a game and quite another to be involved in one. At the end of Isaiah, chapter 58 you will find some real benefits if you follow the instructions.
Just think about it, "Who Taught You To Do It That Way?"The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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