So…Isaiah 20. What’s up with that? In case that particular passage isn’t popping into your head, let me quote this little tidbit:
In the year when King Sargon of Assyria sent his commander in chief to capture the Philistine city of Ashdod, the Lord told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Take off the burlap you have been wearing, and remove your sandals.” Isaiah did as he was told and walked around naked and barefoot (Isaiah 20:1-2, NLT).
Okie dokie. So, in case you didn’t notice, Isaiah—at God’s request—walked around without any shoes on. Oh, and also, without any CLOTHES. And for how long—one week? An agonizing two months? Nope, we learn from the very next verse that Isaiah did this for a whopping THREE YEARS. God commanded him to, in an attempt to send a message. I’m guessing everyone got that message loud and clear. (Oddly, they always leave these stories out of children’s Bibles.)
Whew! I don’t know about you, but my brain immediately starts to search for solutions for this. Man, you’d have to be really sure something like this was God…It’s not likely that this will be repeated…Context is everything…Desperate times call for desperate measures…etc. But ultimately, here’s the question I have to ask myself as I leave this passage:
If God asked me to do something absolutely ridiculous, would I do it?
Now, if I were asking this question several years ago, I wouldn’t hesitate to shout YES! It’s not that I was more obedient back then or had greater character, it’s that I had absolutely no reputation. And therefore nothing to lose.
But eventually we start to become known. In our community or in our network or in our fellowship, for things that bring God praise—which is awesome. But with reputation comes a bit of a challenge, because one day God may ask us to put aside our reputation for His. And we may find ourselves cringing, hesitating, or trying to squeeze our way out of it, especially if we’ve subconsciously become convinced that our ultimate goal is being a put-together, talented, hip young pastor with exceptional communication skills and admirable leadership qualities. Because that goal simply doesn’t line up with doing the ridiculous.
Now, I am in no way arguing that how the world sees us is unimportant, or that as Christians we should be weird just for the fun of it. But let’s just remember that God isn’t tame. He is GOD, and He can do whatever He wants. And His greatest concern when executing His will may not be how it makes us look.
So let’s make a pact together, that if God chooses to “expose us to mockery and jeers” (The Message), we will be obedient. Because ultimately, no matter how great a name we make for ourselves in this whole thing, His name is much, much greater.