“…Any system of thought or pattern of worship that does not produce Christian character should be re-examined lest it be deficient in its basic affirmation. A religion that fails to make man better in his daily living is useless, no matter how orthodox its form or zealous its activity.” – Fred M. Wood
I’ve been studying the book of Jeremiah and today I found an interesting passage:
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD are these.”” Jer. 7:3-4
Israel had gotten into the habit of religious repetition and mistook it for true worship. Though she was still externally obeying the Lord, her heart wasn’t in it at all. It reminds me of when Samuel the prophet said the Lord desires obedience rather than sacrifice. The Lord could have cared less about Israel’s outward rituals: He wanted her heart.
The parallel that I am drawing is how ritualistic we can be in corporate settings in our own church/prayer room circles. I heard someone say recently that they thought it was funny that whenever a worship leader plays Rend the Heavens, the entire room stands to their feet. I think we go on auto-pilot with a song that’s familiar or has a foot-tapping beat.
Though I still catch myself singing a worship song while thinking about hamburgers, I try to remember to ask myself, “Can I really sing this song? Do I really mean these words?” I want to remember what the Lord told Israel through Samuel: He doesn’t look at the outward appearance – that which man sees – but rather the attitude of our hearts.