Blog: Connecting Faith that Works
by Omar Reyes
Isaiah 58 “…And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted. Then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become midday”
The connection of faith and works is missing in contemporary religion. People are finding out how limiting pure private religion is. There is a connection between faith and works; a spirituality of social responsibility. People are asking if faith works!
Isaiah suggests that it is impossible to separate the desire for personal growth from the call for social responsibility. The health and well being of our soul is of the utmost importance, yet can they ever be independent of the health and well being of the world, or the well-being of my neighbor.
There is resurgence in this world of people who have found religion wanting and lacking in relevance and power to transform. They have connected works to faith and it has caused many to leave their homes and comforts and travel across town or the world to make contact with their neighbor and to give a helping hand to those who are less fortunate. Young people are discovering this wisdom and thousands are venturing beyond campus walls to spend hours each week with underprivileged children, or doing work projects during their spring break. Many are taking a year or two after college to plunge into tough urban neighborhoods and daunting overseas programs. I personally met many in Belize during their spring break. They were involved in park clean-ups, building schools, painting fences and playing with children. I asked them why they were doing these things and frequently the answers had to do with making a difference in this world, or it made them feel good about themselves. They used words like “connect” or “give back” as a sense of responsibility that rises out of the environmental muck of materialism and consumerism. We have so much; we need to give back. Jesus said, “ To whom much is given, much is required” Life does require us to give back or we slip into the pit of selfishness, self-pity and ungratefulness.
Isaiah, the prophet, even takes it a bit further by suggesting that our personal healing and prosperity and long term well being are directly connected to the world. The law of interdependence states that all things in this universe are connected and thus every part matters. Society is like a piece of fabric; one loose thread has the potential of unraveling the entire cloth. Therefore, real security, real faith, real healing are found through the widening and deepening of our circles of community, rather than finding our own individual solutions to our problems.
In chapter 58 verse 6 of Isaiah, he describes what God requires of us, “…to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of yoke and to let the oppressed go free. And break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house? When you see the naked to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring forth;”
Isaiah is making a profound point that is often lost in self-help America today: the path to genuine healing and self-fulfillment is the journey that connects us to other people, and especially to those who are marginalized. Your healing is at stake here, says Isaiah, not just theirs.
Omar equips members to use their job to engage the domains of society, including government, business, medical and others to see radical transformation.