Enjoy Life, Enjoy God

Dale Patterson


December 1, 2010

I've quoted Eugene Peterson's one liner many times: "You can stand in a barn and moo, but that does not make you a cow." Point? Hanging out in church, reading Bibles, saying words that sound like prayers and singing hymns doesn't necessarily make one a Christian.

Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers....You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high....Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
                      -Isaiah 58:3-4, 6 TNIV

The Prophet Isaiah watches the people of God do their religious thing - going to church, doing all the churchy stuff. He hears their prayers, even watches them practice their religious rites like fasting. And he says, "I think we have a problem here. Maybe we've missed the point." Isaiah 58 is a powerful essay on "empty religious practice." But it's also a summons to more substantive or faithful practice.

"The fasting I have chosen (This is God speaking!) is to loose the chains of justice..." The content of our prayers is much less important than the content of our heart and our actions. This is the stuff of what we could call true religion.


 Dale Patterson