I concluded Part 1 with: “The point I’m compelled to make is…” Let’s take it from there.
The point I’m compelled to make is … that when we obviously don’t care about anyone but ourselves, God is not impressed in the least with our worship – whether traditional or contemporary, accompanied by professional musicians on a stage or by a guy with an out of tune guitar on a stool. The kind of worship that God hates is the kind that comes from people who have no concern for justice for the “oppressed, the fatherless, and the widow.”
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 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
“Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me… Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:13-17
“With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
… He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6-8
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23
What these ancient worshippers neglected was compassion and just treatment for the marginalized. This isn’t the only thing that disqualifies one from worshipping well, but in each of these passages the common theme is injustice. God requires us to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.” Treating people fairly and mercifully should be as natural and as unstoppable as the flow of a mighty river. We can sing jaunty songs, dance with abandonment, and shout his praises till we’re hoarse, but if we fail to take up the cause of the fatherless and plead the case of the widow our worship can never be thought of as “good.” Continue reading