Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you.Isaiah 58:6-7 (NLT)
Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
Perhaps you’ve studied the “Two Greatest Commandments” before. But, as a review, they are: 1) Love God with all you’ve got; 2) Love others. The first one seems pretty straight forward. God is everything to us. He alone is worthy of our worship. The second one is a little bit more difficult to comprehend. What does this look like in a practical, real-world sense? Take a look at the verses above.
In addition to sharing the gospel with our neighbors (see the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20), we are also called to help them in times of need. Of course, if you live in a nice subdivision or housing development, your literal next-door neighbors may be doing just fine. They have a nice house. They have all the food they need. They’re fine. Therefore, you’re off the hook, right? If only it were that simple. Neighbors are not limited to those who live on our block. Neighbors are those we share this planet with.
Let me make a more controversial point in regards to this concept. These words from our verses today, spoken through the prophet Isaiah, were spoken to God’s people – His followers. In a modern context, this is the church. Therefore, God is calling the church to: fight for justice, help the oppressed, free those trapped in slavery (which is actually bigger than any other time in history right now), feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, give clothes to those who need them, and not neglect our extended families. However, the majority of those in the USA, including those in the church, delegate these things to the government. This is contrary to the Scriptures. It isn’t the government’s job. It is the church’s.
We must stop looking to others to do the job that God has called us to do. Yes, it takes work and time. Yes, it pushes us out of our comfort zones. Yes, it requires money. Yes, it requires sacrifice. But, last time I checked, the life of a Christian is supposed to be lived sacrificially. Church, let’s reclaim our calling and truly serve our neighbors.