Hands held high, music sung loudly, and the swaying back and forth of the people in the seats and on stage is what we know as worship. Perhaps it’s a bit more conservative and the hands are in the pocket or down by their sides at attention, instead of an electric guitar there is a piano, instead of drums an organ, and in place of a band there is a choir. The event is the same, and the goal is expressed as an act of worship. Is it? Perhaps for some, and maybe, just maybe there are the majority of the people who are singing praises to God. My question, though, is does He hear or delight in them?
I sit in the seats at the “church” trying to sing praises in worship to my God, imagining that He is hearing the congregation singing His praises and finding delight in them, but I am afraid that the opposite may be true. Why? Because what good are the songs and praises and offerings in the assembly when the name of Christ is misrepresented throughout the weak? Are our employees taken care of? Is our money used to help the poor, cover the naked, feed the hungry? Is God honored with our lips in the presence of other “Christians” but throughout the week cursed by the gossip and slander of others? The truth is simple, God’s heart is for those who cannot care for themselves, and we do too good of a job at it.
Jesus was sent for us. He was sent not to condemn, but to save, and we have taken up the role of condemner and less the role of currier of Good news. Jesus came to save an already condemned world, and His very presence in the flesh was identified by his ministry to the poor, hurting, and ill. Have we secluded the marginalized in the name of tradition and – dare I say, fashion. If we as the church are showing up in an assembly, making disciples of the institution, and being the oppressor then the Bible says that our prayers are not being heard and our songs are not pleasing to God.
Do we stand with arms raised high in vain? Do we sing loud and passionate for others to hear? If we are not living the life sent as missionaries to a condemned world in love and compassion for the marginalized, then we are in fact vain in our assemblies and our praises are merely annoying noises to the God who is in control of everything.
21 “I hate, I reject your festivals,
Nor do I [o]delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.
23 “Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
Is this a judgement? No, this is the Lord’s job. I am here not to judge, but to call to repentance. Seek justice, let the Lord reign in our lives and may our everyday actions of love to the marginalized and needy be the representation of that life. May me no longer make disciples of an institution, but follow Christ and lead others to do the same. The Christ who sought out the hurting, rejected, oppressed, and outcast. The same Christ who touched the untouchable, had no place to rest his head, and was hated by the religious. May our lives reflect the sent Christ as we live as sent disciples to whom He was sent for what He was sent, so that our worship may be accepted and our lives be full of life.