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Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Isaiah 58:7-8

I still hear it on occasion. I heard it often while growing up. Someone is going through trouble. They are in so deep they can’t get out. For some it’s addictive behavior. For others it’s abusive behavior to themselves and/or others. Still, there are those who just seem to have adversity follow them for no reason. They struggle with health issues, broken relationships and suffer the consequences of their own irresponsible behavior.

When we see someone like this that is outside the church, the first thought that may come to our minds is, “They need to find a good church.” Don’t get me wrong. Corporately worshipping together with other Christ-followers is essential for growing as a believer. But there are two problems I have with the philosophy that going to church will solve their problems.

First of all, there are plenty of people who go to church each week ‘religiously’ who suffer from addictions, health and relational issues and doubt about God’s existence. Going to church doesn’t solve our problems, in fact, sometimes it enhances them.

Secondly, if you think about it, there was very little healing in Jesus day, that went on inside ‘church’. Healing came from Jesus during the normal routine of life when He reached out to those in need while they were in their normal environment.

When Isaiah went before the people of God in Isaiah 58, they were a people who were diligent in offering sacrifices and doing all the ‘things’ or ‘activities’ that God commanded them. The problem arose in their expectations and attitudes. The Israelites assumed that God would bless them because they did ‘all the right things’. In the mean time, people were going hungry, naked and becoming desperate in their search for comfort.

Isaiah’s message to the ‘righteous’ then was the same today. If you really want to see your faith as being relevant, put it to work! When you see someone in need do what you can to walk with them along the way. Praying for them is great, but praying and giving a hug or a warm meal or some of your extra clothes puts action to your prayers.

Building relationship with those in need makes being a Christ-follower relevant to those who see you, not just a religion.

There’s an added bonus to putting your faith into action. Isaiah says ‘your righteousness will lead you and guide you and God will be your rear guard.’ Effective enemy attack almost always comes from behind. The Bible says that Satan is like a lion, seeking whom he may devour. Lions like to sneak up from behind. When you are putting action to your faith you may be attacked, but your righteousness will help you see the attack and God will protect you in your efforts.

Don’t tell someone in need how relevant your faith is. Show them. Building relationships makes your faith more relevant to you as well as others.

PRAYER: Father in Heaven. I confess to you that so much of my walk with you is book knowledge and not action. I’m surrounded by people in spiritual, physical, relational and emotional need. I’m overwhelmed by the task. Help me to build relationships with those in my circle of influence so they know you are real and relevant and earnestly seek a relationship with them. Amen.

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