I wonder sometimes what God thinks of church.
Whilst there are so many things that the church does well, I can’t help but think that sometimes, God must look at his people and feel a little frustrated. I wonder what he makes of the things we do, the things we say and the way we say them. Does He like our liturgy, our singing, our preaching and our prayers?
I don’t think it’s so much the mediums themselves that I wonder if God likes; it’s more the way in which they are carried out, and the thought and meaning behind them. For example, we sing certain songs in church a fair amount. How Great is Our God is a modern example; Amazing Grace is an example of a song that has been sung for years. If we sing these songs truly meaning the words, ascribing worth to God and giving glory to Him, then that is great. But if we sing the song with a sense of repetition and tedium, then that’s not pleasing to God.
Amos 5:23-24 is, for me, one of the most challenging verses in Scripture:
“Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-ending stream!”
I find this really challenging, because it is so easy to slip into the pattern of doing things and saying things in church because, well, that’s what we do. We sing the songs, pray the prayers and read the liturgy not because they are meaningful, but because that’s how it is in church. And I think if that’s the case, then God must get really sad. That’s what’s happening in Amos. The people are praising God, but with empty words, because they are not living out their lives for Him, carrying His love and justice into the world.
I’m by no means suggesting that we should scrap these things; they are hugely helpful to people, and can be a great aid in glorifying God.
But we must ensure that we are not saying empty words and singing hollow songs. At the end of the day, there is no point saying these words if we don’t mean them. We must think about what we are saying, and come to see these things not as the be all and end all of our faith, but as ways of helping us to worship and glorify God.