The City No Longer Forsaken

"They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted." ~Isaiah 62:12

Friday, October 31, 2008

Christianity Today--God and Idolatry

Christianity Today has been going much better recently. My dad gave me maybe the best advice for teaching Isaiah ever. I was feeling so frustrated about how hard it was to help them understand the concepts I find so beautiful, and he pointed out that that is right in Isaiah's calling. God told Isaiah, "Go and tell this people: 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'" (Isaiah 6:9). While I still really hope my students will someday understand, it is comforting to know that it is Biblical for God to call people to give messages that are not understood by the listeners.

We started a unit on what God thinks about idolatry last Friday and it overflowed into this week. And I was amazed, because people got it. They came up with lots of their own examples...we discussed how things like nature are good, but not God. How both poor and rich people can make a god out of money if they think it can save them. How Christians and non-Christians a like may be guilty of idolatry, and how the idols may be statues or invisible things that happen in our minds.

We read Isaiah 44 to go along with it, which is wonderful because it has no mercy on idolaters but is sandwiched by promises of God's love, capability, and worthiness. The judgment is surrounded by the heart cry of a God who wants so, so much to be the One His people depend on. Who is the only One His people *can* depend on.

At the end of class I asked them what they could see about who God was from this passage, and they came up with such a wonderful list. God is the One and Only. God is savior. God is calling out to His people.

I looked out at them, and saw that some of them looked like they had just been run over. One woman in particular, who when I ask them to tell me about who God is will often give answers like, "the sun". How do you explain the idea of conviction in easy English? I knew I had to wrap it all up for was time to not beat around the bush.

"Some of you might be feeling pretty bad right now..." At times I can tell people about God with ease and cheerfulness. This time I had good news for them, but my breathing felt restricted and it was work to get each word out. Sometimes talking is spiritual warfare. But word by word I got out the message that God was beckoning to them...that He didn't let us feel bad just for the sake of seeing miserable people but that He convicts us because He wants us to come home to Him.

I don't know if they got it or not...maybe not yet...but it's the message I feel like I could tell the Japanese people as many times as they let me open my mouth. How the Father loves you, Japan.

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