Focus: Amos 5:21-24 “I absolutely despise your festivals! I get no pleasure from your religious assemblies! Even if you offer me burnt and grain offerings, I will not be satisfied; I will not look with favor on your peace offerings of fattened calves. Take away from me your noisy songs; I don’t want to hear the music of your stringed instruments. Justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up.
In today’s culture, most of us live moment by moment for our own pleasure. We can see this in many ways. We build bigger houses and buy faster cars while the poor go hungry around the world. Because of misplaced priorities, many live in marriages that are “undivorced” where there is no mutual affection, and emotional or physical affairs are rampant. We are also people are not honest in the way we live. We get upset when someone cuts in front of us at the grocery store, but we don’t speak up when millions of babies are aborted each year. Injustice thrives in our culture like mold growing in wet places.
Our religious hypocrisy is worse. We go to a church building and call it church- and we attend it as long as it fits our needs. We sing a song and call it worship, but we have no regard for God during the remaining 6.5 days of the week. We give our money and call it tithe and offerings, but we give out of our wealth or convenience. We rarely or never give sacrificially to the point where it affects us or stirs our hearts. We say we love God, but how is that true?
When a man’s heart is stirred for the woman that he loves, he learns about what she likes and does it. His expressions of love take on new meaning in the eyes of the beloved. He buys her gifts and she accepts them because he has demonstrated his love for her.
In the same way, if we claim to have affection for God, then we must pursue God in a way that stirs His heart. In Amos 1-5, we can see that God rejected Israel’s religious gifts because of her adultery (worship of foreign gods) and evil lifestyle. God did not want Israel’s external symbols without demonstration of internal change. The same is true today.
If we want to enjoy a mutual love relationship with the Lord, then justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up. Our religious hypocrisy must go. The Church needs to start being the Church and engage with the surrounding culture in a meaningful way. If the Church is marked by extending love and justice into the community, then it is probably on the right track. How is your church doing?