Tuesday Re-mix –
“Come, let us discuss this,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they will be as white as snow;
though they are as red as crimson,
they will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
“Cross-examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.” John Henry Wigmore
As an attorney in America, I am part of a legal system which assumes the adversarial system is the surest means to finding the truth. That assumption contemplates two parties, face to face, exchanging arguments in such a way that the truth somehow wriggles out. It does not have to be litigation–it can be arbitration or even mediation–but there is something about standing (or sitting) and looking someone in the eye which just lends itself to more truth and to less manipulation. I have come to believe in that process, when done correctly, as one which works…most of the time.
Interestingly, litigants in our culture have often never taken this opportunity. They just go and hire lawyers and file cases and it may be years before they actually sit down face to face and exchange contentions. Most jurisdictions today actually require it (i.e., some form of mediation) before you can proceed to trial. I think that is a good thing.
God requires it as well. When we have gotten things horribly wrong and have rebelled against Him and continue to get deeper and deeper in trouble, what He waits for, LONGS for, is the conversation. He waits for the moment when we will sit knee-to-knee with Him (so to speak), make eye contact with Him and Him with us, and talk with Him. If you have parented teenagers, you know this feeling…when they are rebelling and refusing to listen, what you want more than anything else is for them to just talk to you. This is what Isaiah called “reasoning together”. It is a kind of “spiritual eye contact”, and it signals the beginning of reconciliation between us and God.
God’s charges against Judah spoken through the prophet Isaiah were serious. During Isaiah’s time, the people were the worst kind of hypocrites. They showed up for worship and went through all the motions, but the rest of their lives showed no signs of righteousness at all. They prayed and they offered sacrifices, but their hearts were not toward God and their “religion” was shallow and empty. They had all the surface religious conduct down, but their treatment of the poor and the downcast in their community was atrocious. They were among the wealthiest people on the planet (though in pretty fast decline, both economically and morally), yet poverty and homelessness was rampant among them.
Does any of this sound eerily familiar to you? Yikes!
I am one of those hypocrites. My life may show flashes of Godliness, but how I care for the lowliest of brothers and the decisions I make about my own comfort, etc. throw me into that same ugly category as Judah in Isaiah’s day. Surely there are parts of my life which do not honor the Lord. And He waits…eagerly longing for me to “come and reason with Him”.
I know God expects that of me. I also know He expects it of His people…all of us…in the same way He expected it of Judah. That is the good news. It is not too late! We can still fix this mess. It begins with you and with me. It begins with our regular eye contact with God. All the praise songs and all the lip-service prayers and all the offerings we bring mean nothing at all to Him without the eye contact. That, it seems, is where grace is found.