Isaiah 58 is one of those chapters in the Bible that sums it all up for me. So when it came to dreaming up things about the mission, vision, values and identity of our community, it’s the first place I went. It’s one of those passages of Scripture that just will not let me go.
This is a Christianity I can get excited about. This is a Christianity that gets me up in the morning. This is a Christianity that changes me and changes the world.
The chapter begins and ends talking about two spiritual disciplines–fasting and Sabbath. A quick note about “spiritual disciplines”: These are things we do that change our souls and increase our capacity to love God and each other. Like using exercise equipment at the gym, sometimes it’s work, sometimes it hurts, but over the long-haul it changes us and makes us healthier.
In the days of the prophet, the nation of Israel was doing fasting and Sabbath badly. They thought God could be bought. They thought that by simply going through the motions, then God would owe them one.
And for being about a group of people on the other side of the world, almost 3000 years ago, that sounds a bit like how you and I do religion sometimes. Am I right?
But according to the prophet, God is not pleased with what’s going on. So sandwiched between these two discussions on fasting and Sabbath are two ideas–that spiritual disciplines done rightly change the world, and that those that do them are transformed, too. Spiritual things are not for our selfish benefit. We do them for our healing and for the healing of the world. We do them so that God’s Life, that Life that permeated the Garden of Eden, breaks out everywhere.
So our manifesto begins simply: Love. We love our God. And we do this by paying attention to, listening to, and acting behalf of those next door to us and across the street from us. Because God’s mission is to transform the whole world until it looks like Eden again.
Love your neighbor and city.
Live the Mission Life.