My son introduced me to some of the songs of the Switchfoot lead singer, Jon Foreman. One of them is “Instead of a Show”. The lyrics begin like this:
“I hate all your show and pretense,
the hypocrisy of your praise
the hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show”
I had to think about what he was singing, then realized he was singing the words of God. Its a paraphase of Amos 5:21-24 where God says he hates our assemblies, he will not listen to our songs.
These words in Amos are very disturbing. Could they be applied to us? In the 21st century, can God hate our songs? Does he hate our gatherings for “worship?”
When I read more in Amos, I find that the people were oppressing, even profiting from the poor. They were living extravagant lives and disregarding the poor. They were living sinful lives, then putting on a good “show” in the synagogue. Their lives didn’t match up with their worship.
What does this mean for us? First of all, in the song, Jon uses the word “show.” God hates our worship if its just a show. Worship leaders are not performing for the congregation. We are performing worship for God, leading and encouraging the congregation to also perform worship for God. Second, for worship to be genuine, our actions also become important. How we live is vitally linked to worship. God hates our worship if we live selfish, sinful lives and show up on Sunday and put on a good “show.” Finally, we’ve got to love others, even those who are needy. God hates our worship if we ignore the needs of suffering, hurting people and show up on Sunday and pretend like everything is ok.
We need to live for God’s glory every day. We need to give every day to Him, and not just Sunday. We need to realize the importance of doing the little things for God: giving our time throughout the week to personal worship, loving each other, and helping folks in need. We’ve got to walk the way of worship every day, and then Sundays will be an overflow of celebration and praise for the things we see God doing through our lives.
Just because I wrote this, doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. I fail so much. God forgive me, and lead me and give me the strength to become more like You.