“Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.” Isaiah 58:2 (NLT)
Perhaps it’s time to address our consumer mentality as it relates to our faith. We live in a culture driven by consumerism. We want what we want, and we’ll do what we have to in order to get it. The sad reality is that this mentality has now even begun to infiltrate our approach to church. The thinking tends to go something like this:
“Well, I really like the message each week, but the worship just doesn’t do it for me.”
“I wish that we would sing more hymns rather than all of this modern, contemporary stuff.”
“The sermons each week are just not deep enough for me.”
And the conversation goes on and on. My question I would pose to each one of us today is this: Have you ever stopped to think for just one minute that worship is for God, not for you? Do you understand that worship is all about Jesus and not about your preferences?
This is exactly the issue that the prophet Isaiah is addressing here in Isaiah 58:2. Although the nation of Israel is seemingly doing a great job at keeping up appearances, God sees past their outward display and looks straight to the motive of their hearts. He sees past the pretense and the façade, and ultimately His heart is grieved when we foolishly choose to make worship about ourselves and our preferences rather than about Him. Worship is and has always been intended for God and for His pleasure, not our own. It was never purposed to make us feel good, although the obedience of worship often has that end result, but worship is for the heart of God. We need a new perspective.
What are the thoughts that are running through your head each weekend when you walk into church? Are you running to make quick judgments on everything that you see and experience, or is your heart overjoyed to bring the God of the universe genuine praise and adoration, worship that is due to His name? What is the driving motivation for your church attendance and your worship? Is it just the right and good thing to do, or are you passionately and sincerely motivated to lift high the name of Jesus Christ? Worship is FOR God. If we could somehow alter our understanding of this crucial point of obedience, we would undoubtedly experience the promised blessing that the remainder of Isaiah 58 offers:
• Isaiah 58:8 – the blessing of healing, increased Christ-likeness in us, and protection (3 blessings)
• Isaiah 58:9 – the blessing of heard AND answered prayer and the blessing of His presence (2 blessings)
• Isaiah 58:10b – the blessing of being a light in the darkness, a tool effectively used for God’s Kingdom here on this earth (1 blessing)
• Isaiah 58:11 – the blessings of guidance and satisfaction (2 blessings)
• Isaiah 58:12 – the blessing of being an instrument of healing in the lives of others (1 blessing)
• Isaiah 58:14 – the blessings of lasting joy and the Lord’s favor (2 blessings)
The point? God blesses the obedient, when our hearts are in the right place. Worship is and will always be FOR God, not us. It might be time for a perspective change.