Isaiah 1:18 has long been a favorite text for evangelistic sermons. These are great words to sound in the ear of every sinner who is hungry for forgiveness: “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.'” But this verse has an added dimension in its context. God’s people need to “seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (1:17).
I believe that God’s people today are still deficient in the area of social justice. We too have neglected the fatherless and the widow. We too have failed to stand alongside the oppressed. We too must come under God’s awesome judgment for our complacent, self-satisfied religion. But, thank God, we too receive His invitation to reason with Him, to discover why the concern for justice must lie at the heart of our Christian life and witness.
It is the calling of every Christian to be holy, to reflect the very character of God. And it is the character of God which gives us reason for our involvement. Our God is not aloof and distant, untouched by human suffering. From the burning bush God said to Moses: “I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt… I am concerned about their suffering” (Exodus 3:7). Our holiness must go far beyond a concern for our personal piety. Our hearts should burn with a love for justice; our consciences should be troubled about the suffering in our world.
Just as the character of God gives us the reason for our involvement, so the incarnation of Christ guides us as to the manner of our involvement. The Word becomes flesh, infinity dwindles to infancy, the hands that flung stars into space are nailed to a cross. God deals with sin and suffering and injustice, not by force, but by the power of costly, redemptive love.
This is the kind of involvement to which we too are called. Jesus still gives to the Christian both the mandate for his involvement and the manner it which it should be undertaken: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant… For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43).
Chick Yuill, The Salvationist Pulpit