The prophet Isaiah spoke to a hard-hearted people, a people who valued profit over the people who labored. A people who fasted and put on a show for God with the best of them, but when it came to loving their neighbor their actions betrayed hearts far from the cares and concerns of their Creator. I watched a documentary called the corporation, which had an interesting premise. Because of a supreme court decision that gave corporations the rights of people (for instance not to be slandered), the creators of the documentary analyzed the self interest driven behavior of corporations through the lens of the DSM-4, the official book psychologists use to classify mental disorders.
Their unsurprising conclusion was that corporations function like sociopaths with DSM-IV’s symptoms of psychopathy, including “the callous disregard for the feelings of other people, the incapacity to maintain human relationships, the reckless disregard for the safety of others, the deceitfulness (continual lying to deceive for profit), the incapacity to experience guilt, and the failure to conform to social norms and respect the law.” Corporations do not of course have to put profit over people and violate human rights, but there can at times be an unhealthy competitiveness and rivalry in the business world. Business can at times be a blood sport, a place where ruthless pragmatism has us thinking that “the ends” can justify whatever means are “necessary.”
I think this description of behavior falls in line with Isaiah’s critique of the cold-hearted people of God of his day who went from fasting to taking advantage of the plight of their workers and breaking out into brawls. What God called his people to was repentance, in that culture it took the form of putting on sackcloth and ashes, an expression of the brokenness on one’s inside working its way out. God called them to repentance; to reconnect with God’s heart for those who were being mistreated and used. God called them away from the violence they were inflicting and toward true fasting, true relationship, and a vision of something like Jubilee, a systemic shift toward freedom for all. Beyond even this, God called to His covenant and to the joy it promised.
- Reread Isaiah 58
- Fridays “Fools Challenge” Instructions:
As the video in yesterday’s devotional revealed, our ubiquitous electronics require rare earth metals–Metals often harvested through human slavery and oppressive armed conflict and civil war. Our unconscious decision to do something as seemingly simple as upgrading our phones might in fact cause a great deal of suffering in the world. It is impossible to track every part of our increasingly complex electronic items, but that does not mean we should just continue taking them for granted and keep chasing the next shiny objects seeking to attach itself to our lives. For this prayer exercise, gather up your current and older almost forgotten electronic items such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, cameras etc. Jesus came to break yokes through the cross, so lay these items out in the shape of a cross. Lay your hands on the parts of the cross Jesus experienced wounding, His head, hands, and feet, and pray that the yokes of oppression involved in creating these products would be broken, and that the workers who produced them would experience freedom, justice, and peace in their troubled lands.