Friday, August 9, 2013

Tell Us How You Really Feel, God

When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more...Isaiah 1:12

The book of Isaiah starts out with God dissing the people of Israel. Hearing this, the people of Israel must have thought, "God...are you breaking up with us?" According to the prophet Isaiah, God is disgusted by Israel's expressions of devotion, because they are not being true to the aspects of faith that really matter to God. It's like, sure, Israel keeps bringing God flowers, but then Israel constantly talks smack about God behind God's back. 

We all know people like Israel in the time of Isaiah. Maybe we've been that way ourselves, a time or two (or three or a hundred.) True devotion is hard. Putting on a show of true love is just easier, sometimes. 

I was once in a relationship in which my partner complained, "You're always wanting stuff." That's how God is--always wanting stuff from people. God is willing to give, but any relationship is a two-way street, and God wants what God wants, not just token empty gestures.

Suppose what we are giving God is not what God wants? What if a modern day Isaiah were to come into our midst and say, on behalf of God, "Look, people, you can take your white frame buildings filled with straight-backed pews and your Sunday-morning snoozefests with hundred-year-old hymns and stick them where the sun doesn't shine." How would we react? I'm guessing that would make us pretty angry and defensive. 

The fact is, not all churches are empty on Sunday mornings. Sure, some of them are filled because they are willing to do anything to please the people, but what if--what if--some of them are filled because they are doing a better job of giving God what God wants from us? Is that a thought we are willing to think? Are we willing to devote ourselves to sincerely and prayerfully considering what God wants from us, in the time and place that we find ourselves? Because anything less isn't actually worship.

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