Saturday, November 16, 2013

Amos 4-5 Character, not Charisma


Amos 5:21-24 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even 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. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.  But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! 

Many Christians think that God is most present in churches with large offerings and exciting worship. Nothing is further from the truth. God is not seeking for spirited worship but for spiritual worshipers who worship in spirit (Spirit-led) and also in truth (Word-based): "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him." (John 4:23). It's not so much what we do in worship that draws His presence but who we are in worship: "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies... But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

God seeks for character, not charisma. Charisma (spiritual gifts and graces) is what we have received from Him, but character is what we do with what we have received. In rejecting the hyper-religiosity of big offerings and noisy music, the Lord calls for godly character marked by righteousness and justice. In other words, godly character. 

How about our Sunday assemblies? Is the purpose of our Sunday assemblies to attract people to come through our exciting worship extravagance or to attract God to come by living Christ-honoring lives that exhibit love and integrity? It's not enough to be spiritual; we have to be truthful, for such worshipers the Father seeks and delights to be present among such people.

This is not an excuse for low-quality worship experience, but it's about putting first things first: "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt. 6:33). There is no substitute for obedient lives. A.W. Tozer once wrote: "Prayer is not a substitute for obedience." We may echo him by saying: "Worship is not a substitute for obedience."

Father, help us become the worshipers You seek--ones that worship in spirit and in truth. Amen.

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