Both readings from today reflect a common theme: what does God want, anyway?
Isaiah says we are wrong to think that God wants religious obedience. Festivals, offerings, Holy days… going through the motions is of no interest to God. Today, these are people who go to church on Sundays, give the required offerings, but that’s it. Instead, says God, I want people who hurt for the poor and stand up for them. I want people who WANT to be obedient, not just those who are. Something worth pondering.
Paul says we are wrong to think that God wants simple law-followers. If we base our righteousness on our own obedience, then breaking one small part of that law ends our righteousness – it’s all or nothing. Instead, God wants those who simply trust in Christ for their righteousness. With Christ, it is not one failure and our righteousness is gone; it is instead one act of faith and our righteousness is assured. Because that one act is not our obedience but our commitment to Christ.
What does God want? God wants those who trust in Christ instead of their own obedience. God wants those who love to be with Him instead of just going through the motions. God wants those who WANT Him not for their own free ticket out of hell, or for their own pride in their self-righteousness, but who simply want Him. Isaiah says it, Paul says it, Christ said it: so why can’t we simply accept this and put our energy into wanting God instead of our own righteousness?