3 Problems With Worship Today

“When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?” –Isaiah 1:12

The book of Isaiah was written as a wake up call to God’s chosen people. The Israelites were a deeply sinful people. They worshipped idols, they oppressed the poor, and they lived deeply sensual and immoral lives. Yet as the book of Isaiah opens, God does not begin with any of these very serious sins. Instead, he begins by rebuking Israel for the way they worship Him.

God cites three problems with Israel’s worship that are still problems with the worship of the church today:

1)Ritual: God begins his rebuke with these words: “Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates.” What’s so strange about this statement is that God “appointed” the new moons and the feasts! Why then has God come to hate them? Because they have become empty ritual. The people’s heart is not in it. How often do we come to worship simply because it’s a part of our weekly ritual?

 2)Repentance: God continues his rebuke with these words: “Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” God tells his people that they can do all the right things –even pray –but if they do not repent of the wrong things that they do, he will not listen. How often do we come to worship with an unrepentant heart?

3)Reality: Finally, God concludes his rebuke with these words: “Seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” James says it slightly differently, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” In other words, true religion deals with reality. How often do we come to worship, say amen to the singing, the prayers, and the preaching, yet fail to give assent to the message of our religion in our day-to-day reality?

Our new Sunday School book, What Happens When We Worship, will help us correct these issues in our own lives. If you haven’t been attending Sunday School, please join us this coming Sunday at 9:15 AM as we start our new book.

Your Pastor and Friend,
John Knox Foster

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