For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
The church building was constructed on an Indian reservation. Years later, it was rolled on logs to a prime corner lot in the nearest town. But by the time I filled the pulpit, the congregation had dwindled to twenty-five attenders. The people were faithful and very steeped in denominational ritual.
Every Sunday we said the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed. Every Sunday we sang the Gloria Patri and the Doxology. I preached out of the New International Version but was asked to switch to the King James Version. As one leader told me, “If the King James was good enough for the apostle Paul, it’s good enough for us.” I don’t think he was joking. Today the church building that was a historical landmark has been torn down. The people are gone as well. I have been told a funeral home now sits on the prime corner lot.
For sure, the Lord’s Prayer needs to be recited. The Apostles’ Creed sums up our core beliefs. I love the Doxology and Gloria Patri. But when good things become meaningless rituals, God says, “Time out!” He is not into words without meaning and hearts without emotion. He doesn’t want people who simply go through the motions with a “checkbox” religion. He is the living God! He desires a fresh and vibrant relationship with those who follow Him. The “acknowledgment of God” comes from a heart in tune and on fire. God has put up a sign for true worship that reads, “No pretenders allowed!”
Father, search our hearts and knock down any walls of meaningless rituals. Keep us close to where Your worship fires are burning. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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