Adding field to field

In his book Center Church, Tim Keller says that the first of six marks of a missional church is “The church must confront society’s idols.” (p.274)

This week I have been reflecting on some words from the prophet Isaiah:

And he looked for justice but saw bloodshed;
for righteousness but heard cries of distress.

Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.
Isaiah 5:7,8

What is the idolatry Isaiah is confronting? Is it a foreign god, an idol of wood or stone? What is the concern that grips the heart of God? Is it true that all of the prophets, even this one, hang on the two commands to Love God and love our neighbor? One of the professors at North Park Theological Seminary has said that we ought to add a new category to our systematic theology: neighborology. This is the arena where Isaiah’s text finds traction. The problem is not so much acquisition itself, it is the acquisition without community, the exclusion of people as we embrace things that is at the heart of this idolatry. He goes on to say:

they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD, no respect for the work of his hands. (verse 12)

As we continue to live life together, how will our community be different because the Church is here in her midst? Will we heed the call to use our stuff to embrace people or will we succumb to the idolatry of materialism and add our implicit voice to the cacophony of voices proclaiming the majesty of accumulation?

Gary Walter, my denomination’s president, has been saying that our aim is to see “more disciples, among more populations, in a more caring and just world.” Effectiveness at that will accelerate our journey to being an expanding, embracing community of love with God Himself at the center.


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