This week in Sunday School:
By Jeff Kennedy:
This week’s lesson is titled:”How can God use me when others suffer?” We will be looking at a passage from Isaiah chapter 58, where the prophet challenged the people to stop playing religious games and to protect those who were being mistreated.
Isaiah’s warning was for the people of the kingdom of Judah. He warned them not to follow the path of the northern kingdom of Israel. Israel had stopped following God long before, and now, Judah was sinning in the same way. The people were pretending to follow God through fasting and denying themselves, but, it seemed that God was not listening. God was, in fact, not listening to them, because they were only pretending to follow Him. They would practice their religion from an outward appearance, but, their hearts were not with God. They were ignoring those around them that were suffering injustices, and basically, not living godly lives. In other words, the people of Judah were “playing church.”
“Playing church” is giving the outward appearance of godliness, but not living in God’s will. It’s going to church on a regular basis, participating in the service, saying the right things, and doing the right things all while at church, but leaving it all behind, when you leave the church and just do the things that you want to do, as opposed to the things that God wants you to do. I think we see “playing church” far too often. But what’s the harm in going church regularly, helping out while you’re there, doing and saying the right things? The answer is NOTHING, if it’s done with the right heart, with the intention of serving and pleasing God through your actions. However, if it is done so that other’s will think highly of you, or you want other to see and think about how godly you are, then it’s “playing church” and, as the people of Judah learned, can be very distressing and sometimes even dangerous.
One specific sin that Isaiah chastised them about was their ignoring of people that were being oppressed or had special need of help, such as the hungry, the naked, and the homeless. We too, often times, could be chastised for this very thing. We go to church, proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, do all the right things and then ignore the needy in our community. James 3:10 says “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” Amen James! We, who proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Saviour must stop “playing church” so we can start being the Church.
In Isaiah’s message, he goes on to tell them what will happen if they will only come back to God and follow Him with a whole heart. He explains that they will be blessed with God’s presence, His healing, His protection, His care, and His provision. All the things that they lacked, as a result their outward only worship.
God knows the heart of every person. He knows if we are “playing church” or if we are being the Church. For us to fully experience the blessings and gifts of God, we must stop playing and start doing.
May God bless us all and we hope that you are able to join us for Sunday School this week a 10:00 am at Maranatha.