During his earthly ministry, Jesus often saved his harshest words for the religious folks. One day, to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, Jesus quoted a passage of Scripture from Isaiah and revealed that it was about them. The passage says:
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:8-9)
When I read these words, I am reminded of my need for a pure heart. I am also reminded of my need for true worship. And, I am reminded that my teachings should be more than legalistic rules.
Too often, we read of those in ministry who honor God with their words, but their main desire is to attract financial security and fame. Their hearts desire is their own success, rather than spreading this great story. It’s easy to get caught up in this once you begin to receive the praises of others.
Too often, we read of churches whose worship is nothing more than cheap entertainment. The thought process in the design of a worship service focuses more on what will be cool or unique, rather than what will most effectively communicate the Gospel and help one experience the presence of God. Now, I totally understand that often times the cool, unique stuff does a wonderful job of translating the message in a culturally relevant manner. However, I have seen too many worship services where the methodology trumps the message, rather than the message shaping the methodology.
And, how often do we take complex, holy mysteries and reduce them into three rules for sacred living? How often do we take a teaching of Jesus and turn it into five steps for a happy life? How often do we think of a really great catch phrase or a powerful point that we want to make and then rush to find a passage of Scripture that supports our agenda, rather than letting the Scripture shape our agenda?
How often do we simply go through the religious motions of being a Christian? How often do we simply “play” church? Has anyone else grown tired of the show?
A pure heart and true worship is my desire today. It is my desire that my words and my heart will be in one accord. It is my desire that my worship will be in spirit and in truth. It is my desire to cut away all of the things that distract and simply move into a place where I will be in a position to experience all that God has in store for me today.