Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:23-24)
As a pastor, I believe that every faithful Christian should try to be in worship every week. I rarely miss, even on vacation I try to find a place to worship if I can. Worship is such an important part of my life and many find it to be central to the Christian life.
But the text above from Amos may help us all to rethink how worship fits into a life of faith. Worship is not an end in itself nor is it the most important thing. It only matters to God that we worship if we are also transformed by that worship and committed to making the world look like God wants it to look. God only wants our worship if God also has our hearts and hands throughout the week as well.
Many of us grew up in an era where going to church was an end in itself. People described themselves as “churchgoers.” Sometimes they even added the word “fine” in front of churchgoers as a way of saying that going to church makes you respectable. Others went out of social pressure or duty but both checked it off the mental checklist each week and watched the clock while they were there – go over an hour and they would start to grumble. Church was a thing you did more than a way of following Jesus.
The prophet Amos saw this same mentality long before the birth of Christ. People would go to the temple, make their sacrifices and offerings and sing their songs. In their minds they had done this so God would be pleased with them.
But God was not pleased with them. The point of worship is not to make God happy. The point of worship is to allow God to work on you so that you devote your life to making God’s vision into reality. Where there is poverty, injustice or anything else that is not in keeping with God’s vision, God does not want you to “go to church” and then ignore the plight of the world. Rather, God’s desire is that we put worship in the right perspective – part of a life lived well.
We have been united with Christ in baptism. Our lives are lived in union with him. We aren’t joined to Jesus just so we can attend church on Sunday. We are joined to Christ so that we can continue his work in all that we do.