The LORD says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on mere human rules they have been taught.”–Isaiah 29:13
I remember growing up in a church not too far from my house. Even though we went to church “religiously” (funny how we use that word, is it not?), I can still remember hating church. It was boring, and long–filled with people whom I didn’t know and who looked, well… so serious.
One day, a well-meaning lady in our church came to me and said, “Son, do you like church?” Exactly how I was going to answer that I did not quite know yet. She continued, unaffected by my silence, “I sure hope so, because this is what heaven is going to be like — church, eternally.”
I’m guessing I had a pretty typical reaction to this for a nine-year-old boy, thinking, “If heaven is like an eternal church service, do I really want to go there?”
Now that I’m older, I’ve been doing some thinking. Is it possible to do the very things that please God, yet be so far from the spirit of it, that we miss the point completely?
The more and more I read the Scriptures lately, I keep finding these places where God appears to be saying, “I know you think you’re doing the right things, even things I’ve told you to do, but… you’re missing the point altogether.” It’s as if we are doing the right “things,” but our hearts, the very things God actually wants, are essentially somewhere else.
Time and again, God says, “I don’t want your sacrifices. I don’t want your religious festivals. In fact, I’m beginning to hate them. What I want is your heart.” In other words, I don’t want your “religion”–your going through the motions to please me–I want your heart passionately longing for me, says God.
It’s as if He is saying, “If your heart is not in it, I don’t want it.”
Your heart is what God is looking for, not your religion. Today, as you go about your day, consider this question: Does God have your heart, or just your “religious” obedience? Perhaps you need to stop doing some things in order to make sure you are doing the right things for the right reasons.
Does God have your heart, or just your religious obedience?