“So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it.” (Ezekiel 33:31-32)
In just a few weeks (October 31) we will recognize the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s attempt to reform the Catholic Church by posting his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. (Their equivalent of Facebook!) His intent was to open a dialogue to return the Christian faith to its origins, and through that process, he changed the course of history.
One of the results of the Reformation is that greater emphasis was placed on the public reading of Scripture and proclamation of the gospel message through preaching. Luther and the other Reformers believed that God HAD spoken to us through Scripture and WAS STILL speaking to us through the proclaimed word.
This belief even had an impact on how church sanctuaries were arranged. You may have visited a liturgical service before and noticed that many times their sanctuaries are arranged with the altar holding the communion elements front and center and the minister preaches from a podium off to one side. In Protestant churches, the speaker is brought to the center, as well, because we believe that the preaching of the word is just as important as the sacrament of communion.
However, not everyone still holds such a high view of the preached word. For some, they didn’t even want to come to church in the first place, much less sit and listen to someone talk for 30+ minutes. They are only there out of obligation. For others, the sermon is something that has to be endured to enjoy the other benefits of church life (communal worship, prayer, fellowship, etc.). Sometimes we are just get tired, distracted or feel that the message doesn’t really apply to us. All of these things can prevent us from hearing what God is trying to say to us as individuals and as a community of believers.
But a far greater danger is when you hear the message, understand what God is asking of you, and you refuse to obey. Maybe you are too afraid, stubborn, rebellious or just too lazy to get on board with what God is trying to do, but the only person you are hurting is yourself. You are literally rejecting the blessings that God has in store for you that can only be unlocked by obedience.
It’s time to quit coming to church, sitting in the same spot, going through the same motions and pretending to be sincere. Put a smile on your face…your sins are forgiven! Sing (actually open your mouth, and sing along in corporate praise)…you were created to worship! Pay your tithe and offering…God triple-dog dares you to try to out-give him! Take notes during the sermon and dig deeper into Scripture…God is speaking to you. Love others, even when they aren’t worthy…because God first loved you!
PRAYER: Father, thank you for being patient with us when we are just going through the motions, pretending to be sincere. Create in us the desire to be holy, and dissatisfaction with an ineffective status quo. Help us to see others as you see them, and love them as you do. We want to be both Hearers AND Doers! In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.