By Rachel Brouwer, Church Mobilization Coordinator
"Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”*
The first time I read this, I remember thinking – THAT’S what I want to be known as. What a powerful image – to repair, to rebuild, to raise up – God’s people being intimately involved in the restoration of shalom and working to bring about God’s Kingdom on earth.
In my studies at Redeemer University College, I was blessed to have a professor who was incredibly influential in my pursuit of learning what it means to seek justice (thanks Dr. Zietsma). In studying history he continually challenged his students to see behind the words of written history, to understand context and intention, recognize biases and prejudices and to think critically.
And so I began to think critically; but not just about history. I began to think critically about events as they unfolded around me; about culture, about the role of the church and my calling to be salt and light.
Here’s the thing; when you begin to think critically about the world, you begin to ask questions and these questions can sometimes lead you to events, people and places that it would be easier to not know about because of the deep suffering and inhumanity that are present there.
I became aware of the plague of everyday violence that threatens nearly 4 billion of our poorest brothers and sisters around the world who live outside the protection of the law.
I learned about the inhumanity of the modern-day slave trade that had not actually seen an end with the transatlantic slave movement, but was bigger and more corrupt than ever.
I learned about children who were being violently abused day after day in brothels where they were held as captives.
But don’t let that scare you off; because it is also in these places that the presence of Christ is most vibrantly alive. In the midst of this suffering God is not only at work, he is calling his people to join him in those places of suffering.
It was then that I revisited the Isaiah 58 passage and realized that the passage was actually outlined as a number of "if/then” statements. Isaiah wasn’t just prophetically labelling God’s people; they were actually required to DO something to live into those names. God says,
"[IF]you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed…[THEN]…Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings …”
And so, the name Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings goes from being a label to being a calling. What an amazing God we serve who calls us to participate in the restoration and rebuilding of his original intention for his creation!
So, my challenge to you is to live into this calling; thinking critically, ask God to open your eyes and your heart to the plight of our poorest brother and sisters and then pray that God will transform and equip you to live into your calling to be Repairers of Broken Walls and Restorers of Streets with Dwellings.
*The Message states, "You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community liveable again.”