The Catastrophe of Complacency & Why It Matters For Me & You

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I love the book of Isaiah. I read it nearly every day because I love how justice and judgement and hope are so intricately wound together. It's a challenge to me, a good gut punch most days, but also an immense relief of promise. 

I've have  a running list of thoughts jotted down that I want to eventually get myself writing about on here. My mind is a never ending stream of a million things, ideas and burdens... so more than anything I write to sort through them. 

One of those thoughts is how complacent we have become as a society to other people's suffering and how much more apathetic we are to the people across the street from us who are hurting than we are to the people across the ocean. There is something gravely wrong with this. 

As I have been reading Isaiah over and over, on thing that is abundantly clear is that God promised a King who would reign on Earth in JUSTICE and RIGHTEOUSNESS! 

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20  I think it's easier to want to help those far away because if we are honest we don't have to get our hands dirty or our hearts involved. We simply write some words, send a check, offer our most sincere prayers for someone else to go or serve or maybe we go on a trip for a week knowing we will return to safe and comfortable. But we don't entangle ourselves in the everyday struggles of the oppressed. 

What about the child in foster care, the neighbor with a drug addicted spouse, the elderly man who lost his job and his health and his wife, the family who's chronically homeless. What about the little boys and girls looking for a place to heal from sexual abuse?  What about the kid getting picked on relentlessly in your child's class? These are all just examples that come to me from needs I heard THIS WEEK! 

Isaiah 32:1-8 says this. 

See, a king will reign in righteousness
    and rulers will rule with justice.
2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
    and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
    and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
3 Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed,
    and the ears of those who hear will listen.
4 The fearful heart will know and understand,
    and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.
5 No longer will the fool be called noble
    nor the scoundrel be highly respected.
6 For fools speak folly,
    their hearts are bent on evil:
They practice ungodliness
    and spread error concerning the Lord;
the hungry they leave empty
    and from the thirsty they withhold water.
7 Scoundrels use wicked methods,
    they make up evil schemes
to destroy the poor with lies,
    even when the plea of the needy is just.
8 But the noble make noble plans,
    and by noble deeds they stand.

The standard by which God would judge human leaders in in how they treat the poor and hungry. (32:6,7) Rather than looking our for self preservation, they are to look out for the oppressed, the disenfranchised , the marginalized. All throughout history people have shown special privilege to the influential. 

Today the Christian Celebrity Culture is off the charts and what God has said since Isaiah is be small, extend all your favors to the broken, the poor, the hungry, the outcast and forgotten. Spend the resources I have given you there. Yet we make promises to the poor to keep them pacified and we use our power to keep victims out of sight and quiet to save face of the influential and not cause damage to the institution of the church. We wield the same power fists to keep the affluent, affluent and the oppressed at arms reach, maybe not intentionally but we cater to our own when it comes to meeting people on equal grounds in our buildings, staff,  home groups, summer camps and free time. 

Yet we can't seem to understand why non believers are drawn to Jesus but not to the church. Or why people who are involved with the marginalized look AWAY from the church for help. 

Now for the ladies, because I have a passion for teaching, empowering & leading you, I am one of you and you are the people I have the most interaction with... I love this call to us! 

The Women of Jerusalem

You women who are so complacent,
    rise up and listen to me;
you daughters who feel secure,
    hear what I have to say!
10 In little more than a year
    you who feel secure will tremble;
the grape harvest will fail,
    and the harvest of fruit will not come.
11 Tremble, you complacent women;
    shudder, you daughters who feel secure!
Strip off your fine clothes
    and wrap yourselves in rags.
12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields,
    for the fruitful vines
13 and for the land of my people,
    a land overgrown with thorns and briers
yes, mourn for all houses of merriment
    and for this city of revelry.
14 The fortress will be abandoned,
    the noisy city deserted;
citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever,
    the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,
15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
    and the desert becomes a fertile field,
    and the fertile field seems like a forest.
16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
    his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.
Though hail flattens the forest
    and the city is leveled completely,
20 how blessed you will be,
    sowing your seed by every stream,
    and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

I am about to step on some tender Mommy toes and I am totally okay with it. Someone had to step on mine and it made all the difference in the world to me. I've made this statement before and I stand by it and will say it many times again. Ladies, the people in the walls of your home are not the most important people in the world. God crated a billion more that he loves, aches over, celebrates just as much as he does the ones that grew in your belly and share your beds. We can absolutly celebrate the gifts given to us and created through us, but we can not simply stop at making our harvest the center of our worlds. 

I see us, all the time, everywhere I go, weighing all of our hopes and dreams and successes and failures on how well we manage our people, our jobs, our friendships, our ministries, our pinterest projects and our birthday party treat bags. And God is sickened by it all. When all is well is our little harvest we are sitting pretty on top of the world, but woe the day when our kid doesn't get chosen, our job gets excessed, we gain 15 pounds or people don't respond positively to something we have created. We want comfortable lives, ones that make us look good and strong and ones where our kids are protected and untouchable and sucessful and loved. But what about real life? What about what God called us to? 

We pursue peace and tranquility in vain if we don't pursue it along side justice and and righteousness, not just for ourselves but for the oppressed. 

The scripture reminds us that we will all enter times where our security will be shaken. It calls us down from our self absorbed places to "rise up and listen". It warns us that our self made tranquility will be fragile if we don't pursue justice for the oppressed and mourn and tremble with them as well. 

Living as daughters of the Kingdom of God with the Holy Spirit in us empowers us to be able to live lives as reflections of Christ. We can peruse justice for our neighbor locked in an abusive relationship, we can mentor that kid in foster care, we can financially step up for the elderly man without a job, find ways to meet the needs of the chronically homeless. We can enter in to hard places right here in a spirit of generosity, justice, righteousness, with assurances that no uncertainty of circumstance can't disrupt! 

Living as children of God endows us with every resource to triumph over every circumstance that will come our way but not without sacrifice. Not without looking in the mirror and realizing there is an entire world of realities that look totally different than ours. Realizing and admitting we are pretty darn ignorant to the challenges millions of people face, not until we reframe our privilege and position, reveal the actual state of prejudice in our mind towards anything or anyone who doesn't look, think, live, believe or act like us. Not without listening and learning, not without getting our hands dirty and hearts broken, not without truly looking at the callouses on our hearts towards those suffering, because it's easier just to not see, to spout offwords like 'God is close to the broken', well he called us to be close to them too!  We can't do what he calls us to without laying down our need to have it all and look like we've got it all together, all the while creating our glass castles that are a huge false safety net anyway and ones that absolutely send people fleeing from the church daily. Self Absorbed women who proclaim Jesus and yet can't make the time to suffer with one another. 

But my sweet friend Jennie says it like this. "BE THE FOOL."

Be the woman who listened to God, the one who strips off her clothes and puts sackcloth and ashes on, the one who beats her breast at the injustice of the oppressed, hungry and victimized. Be the woman that the Lord looks down an and sees who is mourning with those who mourn, running with those who are doing their best to limp across the door step at the end of another relentless day of fighting a battle in her own four walls. The women determined to finish their race well. 

Be the woman who turns down a girls night of dinner and drinks to go sit and make jewelry with women who are battling addiction, who's kids are in foster care being raised by strangers. Be willing to hear their side of the foster care story. 

Be the woman who instead of hosting a whole bunch of her best friends for dinner, opens her home to some neighbors she's never met, or maybe you are the woman who piles up your kids and goes to visit a nursing home one day this summer. Just to be present, to say I see you and you matter to me. 

Maybe your say that hard thing to someone you hear being self absorbed.

Maybe you step into that hard conversation at work where a racial slur is dropped and you speak light into darkness.

Maybe you choose to fight something that is so much bigger than you. 

Maybe you let go... of status, of dreams, of expectations, of the prominent leadership role, the high profile job, the house in the best neighborhood, whatever it is that is putting a barrier between you &  God. Maybe you just grit your teach, unclinch your fists and with fear and total uncertainty you let go. 

Maybe your write that post.

Maybe you teach your kid to defend that student in his class not only with his words but with his actions. Teach him that by passing up playing with is friends who are being the bullies, that he will pass them over to play with the kid who's being pushed down. Yes, he'ss sacrifice being with the cool kids, but he will be the real cool kid in God's eyes and oh what a blessing for the broken spirited one. 

Maybe we all fail (alot) along the way, maybe people notice the change and tell us we have totally taken this Jesus thing to far.. 


Verse 17 says: 
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.

Aren't those the very things that we are striving to create in our own strength?
Peace, quiet, confidence? 

When we choose to stand with the oppressed and lament with those who are broken and when we let go of the things that feed our self absorbed worlds, we receive everything we have ever wanted and worked and spent ourselves dry trying to create, but here's the big reason why it matters most... 

When we do it God's way, we don't just gain it and gather it up for ourselves, we gather it with our brothers and sisters across the street and around the globe. When they see us giving away things to sit WITH them in their suffering they don't just see us, but something that can't be us. Because that kind of love is counter cultural and not of this world. When they see the peace and confidence and quiet strength they see Jesus and then our change isn't just physical in the now but it's spiritual in the eternal. 

The fools this side of heaven won't regret it a day in eternity and I can bet you with almost 100% confidence it won't take you long this side of heaven in seeing the joy of living life with those in the trenches, absent of all the pinteresty worthy stuff. How? Because sweet friends, those are Jesus's people, those are the people He came for and He loves to spent time in the trenches with them. They know Him like no other. There is joy in loving others well, in not hiding from the pain and darkness of the world, but in pressing into it and watching the Lord swallow it whole. 

Isaiah 58:10 says

"When you satisfy the needs of the oppressed your night will become like the Noonday... "

Believe it friends and walk in it today. We can do hard things. He wouldn't call us to anything He hadn't equipped us for. 



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