Eliminating godless worship
If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
It is an unfortunate reality that this weekend, there will be numerous churches in this country where there will be a full choir or well-rehearsed worship team making melodious music that sounds pleasing to human ears but is a gross distaste to God’s ears. There will be a collection of people singing with vitality and excellence songs of the faith but sound like noise in heaven. People will present regal religiosity without genuine righteousness.
This present reality is a repeat; the prophet Amos would have fit among America’s landscape, culture, and society today. His words jump out of the pages of holy writ, a somber warning to the children of God today.
One of the messages of Amos highlighted in chapter five was the importance of human rights. Amos, prophesying to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, says that even though you are experiencing material prosperity, political stability, and geographical expansion, God will judge you because of your unfaithfulness and rebellion against Him, manifested in how they treated others.
These Israelites oppressed the poor and the needy. Those who were the people of God, who had been privileged with the greater knowledge of God’s will, lived a contradictory life; they abused the poor (Amos 5:11), ignored the poor (5:12), and intimidated the righteous (5:10, 13). There was an unnatural disconnection between their acts of worship and how they treated humanity.
This disconnection seems to exist in our society today. Perhaps, in the midst of our continuous news cycles, or specific silos of media consumption, or even because of the regularity of cruel violence, we have become numb to the ills of our society and how they affect those around us. While so many are fighting for “their rights,” we have forgotten our Christian responsibility to stand with the oppressed, seek the justice of those who have been wronged, and give a hand up to those whose life has knocked them down. Scripture teaches us to “mourn with those who mourn,” yet too many cast blame instead of walking with those who have been hurt. Some have traded the God of Scripture for power and politics. These all feed into this disconnection.
And this disconnection – between our vertical worship and horizontal treatment of humanity – grieves God. Amos essentially says, “while your worship is grand, it is not genuine. You are going through religious activities but don’t have the right attitude.” It is a gut check. Here Amos’s words: “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen” (Amos 5:21-24).
Instead of this ingenuine worship, God tells Israel, “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). The idea of justice in Scripture is rightness rooted in God’s character, which should be the attributes of God’s people and the judicial process. Righteousness is the behavior of the one who sought justice; a righteous man was willing to speak in defense of an innocent person and to have the mindset and approach of doing what was right by God’s standard. By doing what is right by other people, justice will be done.
How should this be manifested in our society? Those who worship a God who cares for the lost, left, least, and last should do the same. This care must be comprehensively and thoroughly for humanity from the womb to the tomb. This means sympathizing with those who hurt, helping those who need it, and empathizing with those who have been traumatized. This includes caring for those outside of your circle, those who don’t look like you, weren’t raised like you, or even live like you. This includes showing the extraordinary sacrificial love of Christ to anyone and everyone.
Instead of ritual and performance, God is more interested in a genuine relationship with Him and passionate concern for the rights of the exploited, the abused, the left out, and the cast out. Instead of feeding the power-hungry, there should be surging integrity and goodness. If we were honest, we have a long way to go. However, personally choosing to reset your heart and mind towards God’s heart with repentance and adjusted priorities is the first step in His direction.
Christopher M. Todd is a Coosa County resident and the pastor of The New Home Missionary Baptist Church near Rockford.