There seems to be a constant competition amongst laundry product manufacturers to produce the ‘best ever’, ‘whitest whites’, ‘cleanest and freshest’. They all want us to believe that their product can make our clothes as clean and fresh as possible.
True cleanness and deepest white is what God wants for our lives.
Isaiah challenges the people of Jerusalem about their behaviour. Not on the Sabbath, but the rest of the week. Like the Pharisee in last weeks reading they come into the Temple, they bring all the “right” sacrifices, they’re doing what they think is the right thing – but they are not. They may be doing the apparently right thing, but for all the wrong reasons – which makes it the wrong thing to do. It’s not just what we do, but why we do it that really matters in life and faith.
Jeremiah points out to them that it is no good bringing all the right sacrifices to the Temple, if the minute you leave you are doing the wrong things. They were bringing offerings to God, and then going away doing evil, being violent, watching injustice. However good an offering is, it is no good if it’s not backed up by actions. It’s not what we do in the Temple that matters, but what we do outside for the rest of the week.
It can be so easy to come to church, stand up in all the right places, sing the hymns, put something in the collection when it passes, but do we let it effect the rest of our lives? Do we let God speak to us and change us, and take that away with us and live by it.
God’s challenge, stop the evil, see justice done, help the oppressed – that is the offering he really wants to see.
And what a wonderful invitation from God. You are stained, but I will wash you as white as snow. We do get things wrong, but God can put them right. He makes us white as snow, better than the best washing product, with the finest optical brighteners, God offers to wash us whiter.
His invitation to “come and talk it over”.
How amazing is that. God who knows us best of all; who knows the reality of our lives, not the public face we present; who knows the true depths of our stains invites us to talk to him, to let him clean us and free us – that we might go and free others from violence, oppression injustice and shame.
So, come to God. Receive what he offers. Welcome his invitation. Accept his forgiveness. And live in his ways.