Today’s reading: Ezekiel 31-33.
“Honey, what did the pastor preach about last week? I know it was a really good sermon, but I can’t remember what he said.”
Ezekiel acted out many of his messages, so I bet they were more memorable than spoken sermons. Today’s verses suggest that the prophet may have sung and played an instrument as well. Despite all his efforts, God revealed the depressing news that the exiles weren’t really absorbing Ezekiel’s lessons.
“As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. Ezekiel 33:30-32
See if you can recognize yourself or your church in any of the practices of Ezekiel’s congregation:
- They came for music more than the message.
- They came for entertainment rather than for worship.
- They were distracted by other concerns, motivations, and priorities.
- They listened to God’s word but didn’t do it.
God’s word is meant to be life-changing. Jesus saw the lack of life-change in his audience as well. He told the parable of the wise man who built his house on the rock, and the foolish man who built his house in the sand of a dry river bed. Hard rain fell on both men, but only the house built on the rock withstood the storm. The difference? The wise man heard God’s word and obeyed it. His work of building was harder to begin with, but he laid an indestructible foundation.
James also knew the problem of people who didn’t live according to God’s word. He compared them to people who look in a mirror (God’s revealing word) and then walk away and forget what they look like (forgetting how God wanted them to live). James said the man who disregarded God’s word deceived himself, while the man who kept God’s word was blessed.
Some people come to church for the tradition, some for the socializing, and some for the emotional lift it gives them. When you go to church this week, make sure you go prepared to worship. And make sure you let God’s word change your life. Don’t just listen to the sermon. Think about it, talk about it, remember it, and apply it.
Image by Andres Por on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0