Our weekly community group continued our study of the book of Isaiah last night. God, as we encounter Him through the inspiration of (or, the inspiration [e.g., “breathing”] into) Isaiah, is indeed a wild being. He is so unlike us.
One insight we discussed is that God equates ungodliness with a) uttering error concerning the Lord and b) not satisfying the needs of the destitute by (given a possible reading) ignoring those needs or actively withholding resources. I feel that the latter emerges from the erroneous beliefs about God and His initiatives (represented by the former). I feel this way because I see it in my own life. I see it in the fissure between traditionally conservative and liberal interpretations of what constitutes godliness.
Conservatives place a premium on correct belief about God–not “utter[ing] error concerning Him”–at the cost of neglecting the needy. See 1 John 3:16-18.
Liberals, then, prioritize meeting the needs of others in compassionate service–not “leav[ing] the craving of the hungry unsatisfied”–at the cost of neglecting the profession of orthodox belief. See John 20:30-31.
Isaiah 32:6 offers us neither of these two options. Let’s read:
For the fool speaks folly,
and his heart is busy with iniquity,
to practice ungodliness,
to utter error concerning the Lord,
to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,
and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
Here we see a third way. It is the whole of godliness to, with all our intellectual integrity and spiritual humility, articulate the whole counsel of God’s revelation (the self-disclosure of His attributes, initiatives, and precepts) and live and act as Christ’s body within the realities of those truths.
The apostle Peter promised that God, through his divine power, has granted us all things that have to do with godliness expressed in life (2 Peter 1:3). Do we ask Him for the power to comprehend more of His self-disclosure? Do we ask Him for the power to image that self-disclosure through works of compassion and ministries of relief in His name?
To take God at His word and to humbly inquire of Him to better know Him is to love Him. To speak of Him as He has revealed Himself is to love Him. To take on good authority His serious remarks regarding care for the poor, the outcast, and the weary is to likewise love Him. If we do not hold these mindsets and habits as one in the same, we are forsaking true godliness, according to the prophet Isaiah.
Why do you think we fall into either the reductive conservative or liberal understanding of godliness?