Listen to today’s devo!

Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. (Isa. 1:5)

In his famous letter from a Birmingham jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" (1965). Dr. King argued that communities are profoundly interrelated, and that injustice being done to some would erode the meaning of justice for all. Reverend King was equally disturbed by the expressions of hate and the silence of many.

The passage in Isaiah reveals the self-inflicted wounds of the community of Judah. A national struggle and desolation overtook them as a byproduct of the community's sin. In a sense, God was pressing charges against the whole community. It seems that the accusations were made, not because the people had ceased to practice their religious duties, but because they had denied justice to the vulnerable ones (see verses 11–17). Such refusal harmed the people as a whole, bringing sickness and alienation to the entire nation.

Justice is central to the covenant relationship between God and his people. For the community of God, worship and justice go hand in hand. The proclamations made in the liturgy ought to be ratified by tangible demonstrations of righteousness. Liturgical activities require a collective response—and so does justice. To have one without the other is to expose the community to relational illness and alienation. To use Isaiah's image, worship without justice is like living in a city under siege.

Stand up for justice on behalf of the vulnerable ones.

Luigi Peñaranda is an associate professor of global leadership and Latino/Latina Christian studies at Wesley Seminary of Indiana Wesleyan University.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.