If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. (Isa 58:9b-12)
this is a time of infinite possibilities, and infinite collapses of all that our culture has known. as never before, this time of mass media and social media and any other media makes all things global and connected, and infinitely increases the loneliness and the pain of the individual.
so, why talk of rebuilding wreckages and restoring habitats, and mending the ruins that other generations have left before us?
the simple answer is – because we live in a broken world.
the impossible answer is – because christ died for us, for each single one, so that this hurting, broken and broke world be repaired. he died, repairing it.
first: how, by what means, is the world broken.
again, there are quite a few answers, which can be summed up in this: the world is torn apart by (and with) sin.
(and those who think they have nothing to do with this formidable notion, think again: have you really never, absolutely never ever thought evil thoughts of another, tried to posses another one’s freedom (of choice or otherwise), said things that are not true, wanted revenge, hurt another needlessly, wanted to kill, used strong language, used illegal materials at tests, … i could go on…? … i have. and i have seen the world torn apart and the souls of people bleeding, my own including)
we do not need an outside enemy, an occupation, to bring about dismay and suffering. we destroy this world, our selves very successfully on our own. whenever we take the place of god, make a deity of ourselves, or what we think we possess – we hurt our souls, we hurt those around us, we ruin this beautiful world.
thus, by the means of sin, is the world broken.
and this is why isaiah the prophet comes not only with the “if”, he also has a “then” in his words.
because sin is the cause of death, both visible and invisible, in order to bring about restoration, it has to be dealt with first.
and, no, we cannot think or otherwise make our way out of this on our own. no psychoanalysis or therapy will heal the soul if it does not rest in the peace of god (they can come later, when the main damage is repaired).
only by absolute surrender to christ, is the wounded soul healed. by admitting that there is no other doctor, no other way out, no other healer than jesus – are our bitterness, pain, unforgivingness, childhood traumæ, many illnesses healed. it is a simple thing. all you have to do, all you need to do, is plainly tell him so. “jesus, i surrender.” that – and he will take over, and start action.
this is the “if” of the prophet’s text: if you surrender to god, and stop doing all those customary things in this society – as comparing people. making impossible demands, judging them like you were any better, ignoring those that you think worthless (in other words, when you allow christ work in you, and build you into his likeness)- if you do that, then. THEN.
then you get to go to the ruins of the world. with the best company ever.
yes. you go into the ruins, into the parched places, into the tiring tasks and all those crazy things this broken world offers. but you do not go alone. god is your map, god is your energy source*, god is your battery of love and your toolkit. (*and his word is your lamp, remember).
if you stop for a moment, and think of those outside yourself. if you enter a relationship with jesus, you are bound to experience a profound and lasting change. but even more than that – you are going to be enabled and equipped for the work of restoration, healing and rebuilding. do you want to make this world a better place? here is your chance.
replace your self with christ’s self. confess your brokenness. ask him to remove your sin. ask him for healing.
then go and restore the world.