This is the second half of my ‘plan B’ sermon from Sunday.
And Seek Now
The chapters speak to more than just the troubled. For example, Isaiah 58, which was read around Ash Wednesday, speaks to the self-righteous. I think Isaiah 55 has a particular message for the complacent, and that could be a good description of our society. Figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that over 50% of people in England still class themselves as Christian but less than 30% of those (or around 15% of the total population) attend a religious service at least once a month. On the positive side, that means that, just by turning up today, you are probably above average! However, even if percentages do your head in, and accepting that we’re not the only local church, we’re still a tiny speck compared to the total population of the parish, which is probably approaching 15,000!
We could look and see that as a sign of complacency in our society but, as we look at his Word, God is in the room with us and you know how he always cuts much closer to the bone. Does worship and delight, flowing from the boundless love of God, light up all our days? In the ‘nonsense’ imagery at the start of Isaiah 55, I’m reminded of what Jesus spoke to the church of Laodicea (and us) in Revelation:
15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have no need of anything,” and you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to apply to your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. 22 The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”Revelation 3:15-22, NASB
God is calling to us through the message to Laodicea and through the message given to Isaiah. He is calling to our ‘Christian’ nation. He is calling to those who have fallen out of the habit of Christian fellowship. And he is calling each of us, here in this room. Even if we are on good soil, we’ve got to reach our roots to the water and our faces towards the light.
God calls us: “Seek the Lord, while he may be found; call upon him while he is near”.
Let me close with a prayer based on Isaiah 55:11, just beyond where we read to:
Father God, your word goes forth from your mouth and does not return empty without accomplishing what you have desired. Trouble us in our complacency, comfort us in our troubles and help us cherish your gift of living water. Amen.