If you read my recent post about the moms ministry my friend Tiffany and I are beginning, you saw that the premise of the ministry is Isaiah 58. Since this isn’t a familiar chapter to most people (myself included until I read it), I encourage you to read it.
But for the purposes of this post, I want to share one phrase that is foundational in our ministry. It comes from Isaiah 58:7:
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?”
During our Seed Group training, we will be discussing every phrase in that verse, but the one I’ll focus on today is “into your house.”
From my research, “house” is actually more accurately translated “home.” It’s more than a structure but instead the seat of the family itself.
For most people, our immediate family are the closest to us. Our relationship with God notwithstanding, they are the very center of our everyday lives. They are who we work for. They are who we protect. They are who we want to spend our leisure time with. And for most of us 21st-century Americans, they are those with whom we insulate ourselves from the world.
Yet in this verse, God is telling his people to invite others – the downtrodden, the poor, the outcast, the hopeless – into our homes. Into our very lives.
Did that hit a nerve with you like it did me the first time I read it? Do you identify with any of the following:
- I am comfortable with my friends; I don’t really desire any more.
- I am frazzled enough with all the responsibilities I have now. I don’t need the burden of having to keep up with one other person.
- I don’t want anyone to get close to me. I’m afraid they won’t like what they see and I can’t bear rejection.
- My family is all I need.
- My home is my private sanctuary, and I want to keep it that way.
- People might hurt me and I don’t want to risk it.
- People might take advantage of me and I won’t know how to handle it.
I have to admit, several of those describe me to a T. As much as I crave relationships, I like to keep them at arms-length. Sure, I’ll be faithful to attend church. I’ll even have my quiet time every day. I’ll give to help missionaries go share the Gospel. I’ll serve in the church where it’s needed.
But don’t ask me to invite people who might
take advantage of me
get too close to me
into my life.
Yet that is EXACTLY what God is calling his people to do in Isaiah 58.
Tiffany and I both shared our reticence about intentionally making new friendships. Intentionally investing in women who may hurt us. It’s scary.
But it’s necessary.
Sometimes I need to swallow my pride and risk you seeing my ugliness so you can get close enough to see this little light of mine. To see my Jesus. To see that in spite of my ugliness he gave his life to save me from my sin. And to see that he loves you in spite of your ugliness, too.
The challenging part of this ministry is for us to step out of our comfort zone and seek to initiate relationships that we otherwise might not have, for any of the reasons above. But if you read all of Isaiah 58, you’ll see a wealth of blessing in store when our hearts align with God’s heart for people.
God may not be asking you to open your literal home to others (although he may be), but he IS calling you to open your life to others with the purpose of reaching them for Jesus Christ. As I heard recently, true commitment will always cost us our convenience. Are we willing to sacrifice that convenience if it will make a difference in someone’s eternity?
Moms Ministry Update: Thank all of you who shared your support after reading about our ministry. Please let me know if you are interested in attending our Isaiah 58 study in October/November. Also let me know if you feel God is leading you to be a part of a Seed Group. I also wanted to share… you may not have children at home but you are interested in this type of ministry. Tiffany’s and my focus will be on moms because that’s the stage of life we are in, but this home-based ministry isn’t limited to that. College students, singles, couples, empty nesters…anyone… let me know and we can work out the Isaiah 58 training and assist with your Seed Group.