The Heart of Worship
What does it look like to worship God? We know that it is more than just the music we play and the songs that we sing but how can we worship God with our normal, mundane, daily lives?
The book of Amos is quite frank about worship and what it means to God.
In the message, Amos 5:21-24 says:
“I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice – oceans of it.
I want fairness – rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”
Wow. Talk about hitting me right in the face and leading me to think about the western church and our motives, methods and ambitions. What is it that God is really asking us to do? What does Jesus look like and teach us in the Bible. Is it really music, lights, Sunday’s, projects, money and conferences? I really don’t think that it is.
God’s rejection of Israel’s worship in this passage is so deep and emotional. It is the disconnection of worship and mundane, every day life that is so unpleasing to God. The people were doing all the right things during the worship, but their daily lives were not portraying the justice and righteousness of God. This is a call for justice and righteousness amongst believers as an act of worship to God. A call to flood communities with justice and never stop flowing with righteousness.
Worship is essential for a relationship with God. We read over and over about worshiping God throughout the Bible. Some of the best Psalms are giving praise to God and encouraging us to do the same. So much so, that worship should be so deeply interconnected with our daily lives that it is impossible to separate or compartmentalise it. The little things really matter. Our reactions, the way we include people, the unseen blessings that we give to others, the way that we loudly love others and hate injustice. It all matters and it all reflects worship.
I would hate for God to despise my sung worship because my daily life and the way that I treat people, didn’t match up.
The old song that we used to sing when I was growing up – “heart of worship” – came to mind when I was reflecting on this passage. When all is stripped away – the music, the lights, the sound systems, the playlists, the words on the screen – what are we left with? Our hearts that long to know Jesus more. Hearts hungry for a deeper relationship, connection and understanding of who He is and how we can look more like Him. This takes time. Moments of sitting quietly and listening. Reflecting. Changing our responses to others. Actively seeking justice and fairness. Seeking peace and love. Or else, our worship is wasted. Worship is about what happens outside of the sanctuary, as well as what happens within.
I think this passage is still so relevant for us as the church today. How much are we reflecting justice and fairness in our own communities? Are we angry with injustice, like God is? Are we seeking His ways of the Kingdom above our own comforts, habits and routines? How well are we caring for those less fortunate around us? How long are we sitting in God’s presence and just listening?
A song, is not what God has required. My prayer for us all this week is that we look much deeper within and come back to God’s heart for worship together.