It seems we can come up with all sorts of ways of trying to please God with our worship. The Old Testament prophet Micah employs some extravagant hyperbole to expose the ends we will go to impress God. Yet, he points out that God is impressed when his people humbly serve those who are crushed by life's injustices.
With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:6-8 (NIV)
Today, we believe we can serve him through extravagant and well orchestrated worship celebrations. Many such events boast laser-light shows, smoke machines, and high tech pageantry by every imaginable means. Competitions to provide the coolest Sunday morning entertainment come with high stakes...drop your moxy just a bit for a week or so, and church shoppers will move on to another nearby show.
We also serve God or worship God by giving our tithes and offerings at our weekly gatherings. We dream of them benefiting some poor soul who needs just what our church offers. Do we sacrificially give so that we can have?
And then, at the end of the day we wonder why we are left unsatisfied. We have given our rivers of oil--our thousands of rams on the altar. And they are sold and paid to the bankers who finance our altars.
And those who need justice and mercy, sit in the cold today. They no doubt wonder at the fact that the most grand buildings in their town belong to churches who built them for the glory of God.