Day 01 Devotional & Discussion – February 18, 2015

Isaiah 58:1-5

In Isaiah’s day, there was outward evidence of spiritual desire, yet the people’s religious activity was not matched with just social structures—specifically, the way workers were treated. Do you see a similar disconnect today? Think of an example. The Hebrew word translated “exploit” in verse 3 (NIV) can also mean “exert pressure upon”, “drive”, and “oppress.” Have you ever felt exploited? When? Think of an example of how workers today are being exploited.

8 comments

  1. I’m reminded of how during that staple of worship services, coffee time, we can be guilty of the sins mentioned in Isaiah 58. We worship God in song, or in prayer, or in his word, while serving coffee that exploited workers. But it was cheap! We were just being good stewards, right? I’m very thankful for a Fellowship Team that has a heart for worshipping God through the coffee we serve, even if it costs more. We started using Equal Exchange for sourcing our coffee. It’s delicious too! Where I’m expecting this compact to challenge me is in the local arena. For some reason it seems much easier to see and address international worker injustice. I feel very conflicted about local wage debates.

    1. I really appreciate that you use certified fair trade coffee in your coffee hour. We used Pura Vida coffee for a long time, but for some reason stopped. Thanks to your post, we’ll make sure we serve fair trade coffee starting Sunday!

  2. I have definitely been in these types of work situations. When downsizing occurs in the workplace and the current, yet employed workers are given more work because no replacement is to be hired (to save money.) Problem with this is that eventually, a worker will have too much on their plate and it renders even an effective worker less effective, less competent, and just plain frustrated. Then there’s the time I was asked to take numerous furlough days AND have unpaid holidays for 18 months. It was demoralizing. Yet, somehow certain people make a lot of money or get bonuses. Recently the Illinois State Board of Education paid 3 higher-up administrators bonuses for picking up the slack of a job that someone had vacated last November. The bonuses came to over $40,000. Seriously? With the state of our budget in Illinois and education funding? Don’t even get me started!!

  3. The verse in the Scripture that jumped out at me was, “they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right…” The US is frequently referred to as a Christian nation. Our politicians almost always end their speeches with “God bless the United States of America.” Though church attendance is declining, still, more people in the US show up for Sunday worship than in any other nation. We “seem eager”, but there is little evidence of our interest in doing what is right. We are guilty of rejecting God’s commands. We are a nation built upon slavery. We are a nation that justifies poverty. We are a nation that idolizes wealth. Our nation needs to repent. God forgive us.

  4. Here in Jeffco CO teacher contract negotiations are about to begin. Across the country teachers are being blamed, shamed, and punished. They are expected to be superhuman (sometimes even by me), but their wellbeing, livelihood, and professional working conditions are being made a political battlefield. I’m a parent. I want my kids to learn to learn and love to learn, and I need teachers to do so. But this isn’t the way. I want to be a voice for Shalom (flourishing) for teachers because I believe it will lead to Shalom for my kids.

    1. Amen! We have bought into the belief that pushing people to work harder with fewer resources under constant threat of performance evaluation is the equivalent of “holding them accountable.” (That sounds a lot like Pharaoh to me.) The call for accountability is just an excuse to say to workers, “We think you’re lazy and we know you’re not doing your job” while at the same time undercutting their ability to do it. We have a friend who teaches kindergarten in a Chicago Public School (and often stays at work until 6:30 – 7:00 pm). She spends most of her class time doing individual assessments to create data that is to provide “evidence” of how well she is doing her job. As a result, she never has time to teach so her children don’t assess well. Another high school teacher friend was told that he would receive an unsatisfactory evaluation unless 95% of his students met or exceeded state standards! Of course, he cannot control any of factors that contributed to the student’s previous school success or failure. Between an unfunded and ineffective No Child Left Behind Act and the new Race to the Top, we are on a course to slide to the bottom. Contract negotiations are about to begin here too. It’s not going to be pretty. Keep preaching Shalom for teachers!

  5. I’m late to the party here, catching up on these devotionals and discussions. My husband works fast food at a company that pays him well enough, but we don’t have insurance benefits or vacation or sick time. So, one missed day of work means that we struggle to pay our bills on time. People often say to me, “Doesn’t he have benefits?” They think that because he works full time, he must have benefits. I wouldn’t say that his job is necessarily exploiting him, but it has opened my eyes to how privileged I am and have been and how hard it is to help people understand that a full-time job does not mean financial stability.

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