Third grade in our household always brings the dreaded year of the recorder! Do you remember learning to blow into a cheap plastic recorder when you were a kid, longing to play sweet melodies of “Hot Cross Buns”? Unfortunately, what usually comes out is just the opposite! Many repeated loud, harsh screeching sounds, woefully off key. While I admire my kids’ efforts and enthusiasm to master the recorder, wow does it hurt my ears!
The Lord uses a similar illustration to express how He feels about our worship when our heart is not in the right place. In the book of Amos, God sends Amos to announce judgment on Israel because of their extravagant indulgence in wealthy living, while at the same time committing extreme injustice and oppression of the poor. Amos 5:23-24, the Lord rebukes:
God tells his people that their songs of worship are nothing but noise to Him because of their acts of injustice and oppression. Ouch. Let that sink in for a moment. Not only are their songs of worship nothing but noise, God tells his people that He despises their religious feasts, cannot stand their worship gatherings, and has no regard for their offerings. (Amos 5:21-22)
The Bible uses a similar noise analogy in one of its most cited passages, the “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul writes, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Cor. 13:1) It all comes down to love. Do we love what God loves? Do we hate what God hates? If God loves the poor and oppressed, we too are called to love the poor and oppressed. If God hates injustice, we too are called to hate injustice. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)
I don’t know about you, but when I worship God and praise Him, I don’t want it to sound like the screeching noise of my third grader’s recorder. All of our “religious” practices are worthless in God’s sight if we do not care about the poor and oppressed. Let’s all take a moment to reflect on the condition of our hearts, and ask God to give us a greater heart for the poor and oppressed.
- Ashley Manfull © July 2018