Do you like going to church? What do you do at church?
For God’s people in the Old Testament, going to church meant going to the Temple in Jerusalem. At the temple the people would worship God with songs, feasts, and sacrifices on a big bronze altar. All of this temple worship was commanded by God. Which is why when the prophet Amos came along and told the people that God didn’t like their feasting, their singing, and their sacrificing at the temple it must have been very confusing to them. Listen to what God said to the people through the prophet Amos:
Amos 5:21-24. 21“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. 23Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. 24But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
God is saying “I hate your feasts, your songs, and even your sacrifices.” This would be like God saying to you and your family, “I hate it when you go to church.” Why would God say this to his people? Why would he hate them worshiping him at the Temple? Wasn’t that what they were supposed to do? Yes. But they also forgot the more important thing that they were supposed to do – justice and righteousness.
God wants us to be kind to others. To help others. To watch out for others and protect them. To make sure everything is fair. To make sure everyone is treated with respect. But the problem is that we aren’t always going to do justice and righteousness like God wants. And that is why God sent Jesus to us to do justice and righteousness for us. Jesus was always fair, always kind, and always helpful. But most importantly Jesus died for our sins so that we could have his justice and righteousness inside of us. Now we can go out and do justice and righteousness just like Jesus. Then we can sing to God and worship God at church too. Not to make God love us, but because we know that God loves us no matter what.
Because of Jesus we are counted as just and righteous by God.
With Jesus we can do justice and love and help others.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Listen to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech together. How did he talk about justice?
Jesus, you always did good and helped others, especially when you died on the cross. Help me to do good and help others too. Amen.