Have you ever felt like a misfit or outcast? Have you felt like you were the drum that kept beating off-tune or the person who did not know when to stand or sit in church?
This past weekend I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone into what at first appeared to be a fashionista hub of a Portland suburb. New people, new rules, new dynamics, new awkwardness. How could I belong, even if they were Christians, too?
In the middle of that, I read Isaiah 56-57:
“Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
‘The Lord will surely separate me from His people.’
Nor let the eunuch say, ‘Behold, I am a dry tree.'”
“To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial,
And a name better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give [a]them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.”
God does not care about social status. In that culture, being a parent and a community leader was everything. But God cared about obedience.
“For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
Jesus did not see this as a theory, but as a reality. He got so angry at the casual way people were swindling in the temple that He drove out all the money lenders, citing this verse. This was a place that all people were supposed to come to feel safe in connecting with God.
But the Jews Isaiah was addressing were running after other gods. They were going through the motions, craving new pleasures, so excited for the latest and greatest that they did not even hear that God had gone silent. To their doom. But while God needed to get their attention, He did not leave them under condemnation.
“For thus says the high and exalted One
Who [v]lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Forced into a new time and a new space, I was forced out of my normal conventions and expectations and standards. I had been stuck in a rut, and I knew it. But God used uncomfortable to shake me out of it. Because no matter what part of the Body of Christ we worship with, we can learn and grow closer towards God if we will listen. Thank You, God!!
God, please help me to hear. Hear not only Your voice, but also the dripping eyes of the person who feels like an outcast. Estranged. On the fringes and out of place. Because Church is not about the rules that make me feel comfortable. It is about struggling through the everyday to change the way I live to be more like You. It is so hard! Oh God, it is only by Your strength. But it is a glorious calling!