Don't You Work Together!

A reading for Monday, January 23, 2017: Isaiah 6:1-13.

"And I said: 'Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Isaiah 6 is a tough passage to interpret...

It is used fairly often at the ordination of clergy and church leaders, at least the first few verses. What is not used so often are verses 9-13, in which it appears that God does not want the people to repent. Doesn't God want his people to be saved? We already know that's not true, but this text seems hard to understand.

Perhaps Isaiah is using some sarcasm here and also at the same time offering commentary on his experience of repentance. When we are children, our parents use reverse psychology on us. "I don't want you to eat all the vegetables on that plate. No please don't." They know our stubbornness as children will engender action. Perhaps Isaiah is say the same with the idea of repentance. "No, don't listen to God. Don't repent." It's surely a rhetorical tool.

However, Isaiah also has the experience of knowing the history of God's people all the way back to Egypt. When again and again, God offers freedom and peace for those that will follow his path, and yet the people ignore God over and over and do their own thing. So again, the last few verses are commentary on the history of repentance (or lack thereof) for Isaiah. Isaiah knows what he is up against. It's hard work!

What is clear from reading this text is that none of us want to do the work of faith alone. Following God and doing what God asks of us is hard work sometimes. If we take our calling to discipleship seriously we will surely be challenged. We need a community of other disciples to go with us, to encourage us and to support us. The good news is that faith is not to be done in isolation, even for Isaiah. We are given to each other, to walk together and to work together.

"Go ahead and do it all by yourself! It's so easy... Don't you ask for help. Don't you work together." See what I did there?

I'm grateful for all of you who walk with me in the faith of Jesus Christ each day.


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