Today’s reading: Amos 1-5.
“What does God really think of the worship in my church?”
Too many times we go to church thinking about what we will get out of the service. What will the music be like? Will the sermon be good? Instead, we should focus on giving praise to God. Worship is about proclaiming the worth of the LORD. Like Isaiah in the temple, true worship occurs when we exalt God and are humbled by our sin. The prophet Amos knew this and pointed it out to his contemporaries in Israel and Judah. The people who showed up at “church” weren’t really worshiping. They were going through the ritual but there was no conviction, and God condemned them for it.
“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:21-24
God wasn’t interested in their order of service, or the amount of their offering. He wanted to see an outpouring of obedience. What he saw instead was widespread oppression and immorality.
- The people rejected the law of the LORD
- They worshipped idols
- They took advantage of the righteous and poor for their own personal gain
- They practiced sexual immorality
- They prevented justice in the courts by bribes
As you go to church this week, consider what part of God’s word you may have chosen to reject out of your own preference. Think about the idols you honor ahead of God. Do you engage in sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage, including the use of pornography? Do your choices help or hurt the poor? Are you honest in your dealings with others? These are the actions that make it impossible for God to accept our worship. We need to abandon our immorality and obey God’s will. Then our righteousness will flow like a mighty river and our worship will be true.
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:7-8
Image by Jason Wohlford on Flickr, CC by 2.0