Saturday, 25 October 2008

God doesn't want religion but restoration

I was walking back home with some freshly baked burek when a bit from the Bible drifted to mind. It was something about restoring streets with dwellings. Having pumped what I could remember into BibleGateway.com something very exciting is coming into focus. The words I was thinking of come from a book called Isaiah. He was an Old Testament prophet, someone who told people what God was saying. They come from a chapter which starts off contrasting the religious performances we can be tempted to put on with the true acts of faith God is looking for.

“loose the chains of injustice...set the oppressed free...share your food with the hungry...provide the poor wanderer with shelter...when you see the naked, clothe him...do not turn away from your own flesh and blood”

The street I was walking down, the one where we live, is an interesting place. Many of its buildings are just bombed-out concrete skeletons housing unplanned assortments of trees and shrubbery. There are the semi-restored properties that still bear the scars of war and there are fully-restored buildings. Our apartment block was a ruin but you never know to look at it today. And that’s why I was excited the words I remembered were God’s promise good things will happen for people who live his kind of faith.

“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings”

We’re living in the benefits of restoration and we see it going on around us every day. We also see the need for justice and freedom; there are those who need food, shelter and clothing. These needs are universal but this is where we are now so we must turn away from them here. I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to the time when there are no ruins and every street has a thriving community living in it.

And here’s the clincher: I didn’t realise this chapter ended with a verse that has long been a favourite of mine. “Then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land.” The mountains here look so inviting and that has to be the clearest Biblical reference to mountain biking ever!

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