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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
November 9, 2002

21I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
     I cannot stand your assemblies.
22Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
     I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
     I will have no regard for them.
23Away with the noise of your songs!
     I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24But let justice roll on like a river,
     righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Amos 5:21-24 (NIV*)

We find in both the prophets and the gospels that what seems to upset God more than most anything else is people making a show of what the early Quakers called "man-made religion" but not doing what God calls them to do. This passage in Amos is very strong, but you can find numerous others just as strong on the same basic point.

This is a message for all generations. Verse 22 may not seem to apply to us because we don't have these traditional Hebrew forms of offerings. But don't we have equivalents? Eugene Peterson translates the verse this way:

I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
     your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes,
     your public relations and image making.

Amos 5:22 (Message*)

I don't take this passage in Amos as meaning God rejects the sincere worship of His disciples. There are plenty of passages which indicate we should worship with fellow believers and offer God songs and prayers of praise. The objection is to hypocrisy in our religious practices, pride in our show of religiousity, and practices which really exalt us rather than God.

What needs to be first and foremost in our lives is doing the will of God. Do we stand forthrightly for justice as God sees it? Are we living lives of righteousness, in which our every word and deed flows out of faithfulness to God? Are we putting God first in our day-to-day lives?

Bill Samuel

* New International Version © International Bible Society; The Message version © by Eugene H. Peterson.

©2002 Friends in Christ, Inc.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 27-Dec-2003 12:01:35 EST