By Phil Wood for Pat Russell
"The Kind of Fast God Loves" – Isaiah 58:1-12
Sermon by Bruce Spear
In this week's sermon, pastor Bruce drew a clear distinction between sins of COmission and sins of Omission, and pointed out that God is just as concerned (perhaps more so) about the good things we don't do as he is with the bad things that we do.
Bruce suggested that our normal human tendency, when praying our prayers of confession, is to focus on the things we have done that we believe may have angered God, while we remain blind to the needs of others that we have ignored. This is a great issue to bring to the Lord in quiet meditation. Ask him to search your heart, and open your eyes to any sins of omission that may be apparent to him but may have escaped your own awareness.
Here's an exercise in the discipline of examen that you may find helpful. At the close of the day, find a quiet place and give yourself a few moments to become still, perhaps by deeply breathing in the peace of God, and breathing out the anxiety and pressures of the day. When you have achieved stillness of mind and heart, imagine yourself sitting with Jesus, just the two of you together, reviewing each thing that happened during your day.
Recall each event one at a time and let Jesus push the pause button on any event he wants you to examine more closely. Was there something you did or said that could have been more loving or Christ-like? Was there a need expressed or apparent that you didn't notice or pay attention to at the time? Was there a nudging from the Holy Spirit that went unheeded?
After reviewing all the events you can think of, ask Jesus to point out anything you may have forgotten, anything you should have seen going on but didn't, anyone you passed by who could have used a helping hand. Ask forgiveness for any such omission he may point out to you. And make him a promise to do better tomorrow.
Read Isaiah 58:1-12 again. Look for the things that break God's heart. Notice how God brings these questions right down to our individual hearts. It's about how our individual hearts are focused, and it's about the actions we take and the things we do or don't do in our individual lives. By laying our hearts open to God about these matters, by becoming increasingly aware of the needs of people God brings into our lives, we can become more like the people he created us to be.
Going more deeply in this direction is not an easy choice to make. It means our own hearts will be as broken as God's. But it's something God obviously cares about a lot. And it's worth exploring the subject with him.