What does God want?

I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.

Amos 5:21-24

I’m being really negative about the church world lately.  It’s really my own doing (or UN-doing).  Don’t get me wrong, I love my heritage. I thank God for every season and opportunity I’ve been given in this life.  I love the body of Christ, and won’t stop attending church.  This negativity is driven by the sorrow of a time of repentance for me.

We’ve been so ambitious with our empires. I’ve been the one who encouraged pastors and churches to pursue such ambitions to build them.

We come up with our catchy logo and we try to keep up with the cool church that has all the lights, smoke and hip band  – then justify it by saying it will draw in people from the world so that our pastor can preach to them.  Face it, all the stage show is pretty and fun, but it’s not reaching the lost.  Our slick graphics are not capable showing someone who is caught up in the mudslide of their sin the hope and deliverance of the love of God.  Our prayer services are not producing anything because they become a time where gossip is “prayed” and then people get discouraged because prayer isn’t answered (maybe because God doesn’t listen to gossip?).

See the pattern? There are some great ideas and intentions. We want people to know about our church being available to them. We want to have excellence in our creative arts. We need to pray. I’m glad to have had pastors we aren’t ashamed of inviting people to come hear.  But we have the cart before the horse!

What does GOD want?

My heart is so torn because  in so many ways I held up the performance of  “Let’s have CHURCH” without having the slightest care about what God wanted us to do.  I haven’t figured it out. I’m not going to say I’ve been doing it all right since stepping down from my last position of ministry, but I am going to say God is calling us all to something higher than what is happening on a platform on Sunday. My heart is broken because the Scripture in Amos speaks volumes to me. Similarly, Isaiah 1:13-17 calls to us beyond engorging ourselves with spiritual meetings and conferences, and actually doing something with all of this.

“Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You’ve worn me out!
I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good.
Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.

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