“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the sound of your song! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” (Amos 5:21-23) These are odd words to have come from the Lord Almighty! Are not these the very things he commanded? Why does he hate and despise them?
He hates them because what they are is all they are. Their religious observances were empty gestures with no connection to their everyday lives. What if the gathering of Christians on a Sunday was all that Christians were about? Would God be pleased? It is tragic when Christians compartmentalize their spiritual lives from their everyday lives. The testimony of the church is greatly weakened by those who simply profess but never practice.
God wants more than empty gestures. God never wanted people who simply worshiped him by name but failed to reflect his goodness. The Lord Almighty, through the prophet, went on to say, “Let justice roll like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing river (Amos 5:24).” The Hebrew word we translate “justice” basically means to treat people equitably. The Hebrew word we translate “righteousness” has to do with right relationships, first a right relationship with God and second right relationships with each other.
How are you doing with practicing your religion through your actions and behaviors? I’ve heard the story of a doctor who left her medical practice to travel to poorer areas of her city, in a van, to treat the underprivileged. I’ve met a wealthy business man who took time out of his busy schedule every week to mentor poorer people in managing their personal finances. I knew an architect who passed up on more lucrative job offers to build housing for low income families. I’ve met an engineer who left his job in the US to bring water to tribal areas in South America. I’ve heard of a car dealership owner who learned that whites bargained for lower prices than blacks and men bargained lower than women, so he fixed the price on all his vehicle at the average bargained price. I’ve heard the story of a seventy-year-old business man, whose textile factory burned down. Instead of pocketing the insurance money, he decided to rebuild and paid his employee’s salaries during the entire construction period. I’ve heard many stories. What will be yours?