Day 02 Devotional & Discussion – February 19, 2015

Isaiah 58:6-12

What are God’s goals for true fasting? What promises does God give to those who fulfill a true fast? If “exploitation” describes worker injustice, what word would you use to describe worker justice?  How do you think true fasting would change the conditions of the workplace and the social status of workers? During this Lenten Compact, what is one change would you like to see in the way workers are treated in your community?  Your workplace?

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3 comments

  1. It’s very interesting to read in these verses how pursuing a life of justice leads to your own protection and provision from the Lord. There are loads of similar promises in the Scripture. I’ve been reading Proverbs with my Wed. PM prayer group, and we’ve encountered this many times. Wisdom means revering God, and that will lead to blessing. Here in Isaiah, while focused on justice, the formula is nearly identical. Do what honors God, namely the pursuit of justice for the oppressed, and God will have your back. Care for the uncared for, and you will be cared for. I wonder how often people do not care for the oppressed because they fear that extra generosity or sacrifice will be wasted on the “irresponsible” and their funds will then not be available for them to use on themselves. In essence, we can convince ourselves that it is unwise to pursue justice to the oppressed. Here there seems to be a direct correlation to fair wages for workers. A distinctly Christian approach to payment of workers ought to include generosity between the boss and the employer, reducing the salary disparity between boss and employee. “If I give my workers more, I will have less.” I can hear the fear in that. And yet, Isaiah 58 reminds us that this act of generosity will be noticed by God and he will care for us! (I wonder if there are examples of companies trying to close the salary gap intentionally because of their faith in Christ?”)

  2. I found this quote on Isaiah 58 by Amy Oden, Dean and Professor of History of Christianity, Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

    “The fasting God seeks requires and promises much more (than periodic fasting). The “if-then” pattern of verses 8-12 sets forth the consequences of such a fast. If the people choose the fast God sets before them, then they will have the blessing they seek: light, healing, help, protection, satisfying of needs, and, most centrally, the presence and guidance of God among them. The people, individually and corporately, cannot have a full relationship with God without a just relationship with each other. One’s piety is not disconnected from the rest of everyday life. When right relationship is pursued, God is among the people, “Here I am.” The glory and holiness of God is made manifest in this kind of godly fast. Isaiah reminds us that this is a God who a) wants more than a formal relationship with the people, b) expects us to be partners in bringing forth God’s purposes and c) is responsive to our choices. The good news is that God calls us, again and again, into God’s own life.”

    I was especially challenged by the statement that we “cannot have a full relationship with God without a just relationship with each other.” We often want to think that our relationship to God is established and maintained only by our relationship with Jesus, yet it was Jesus who said, “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” And Jesus’ commandment was “love your neighbor as yourself.”

  3. When you have a loved one in the service/retail industry, you learn pretty quickly how rude people can be to someone they are “paying to serve them.” We have learned to tip well, pretty much regardless of service, because working conditions for servers is not always the best. I think even if I can’t effect change with my money, I can in the way I treat people. I try hard to learn and use the names of the people who are serving me, to treat them like people with lives and stories, not just someone who is waiting on me or bringing me food. When you live in a smallish community, or even a neighborhood, it’s not hard to see the same people at the grocery or the pharmacy or whatever. I’m an introvert, but it has become one of my favorite things to make conversation with our “usual” cashiers or baggers. And I think when you use someone’s name, they become more “real.”

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