“They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways and obey my laws. …The Lord says to them, ‘The truth is that at the same time as you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers’”.
Isa 58:2, 3 GNB
Sometimes people worship God with a completely incorrect idea as to what it is all about. They make the assumption that by worshipping God they gain some leverage over God who is thereby bound to do for them whatever they want.
The Israelites who made the journey back to Jerusalem from Babylon found themselves in a broken and desolate city. The centre of their worship, the temple, had been destroyed. It was a long time before “normal service” could be resumed. So things were somewhat haphazard. But the people did worship after a sort and fasted frequently. But so the people thought, God did not hear their requests, nor did he do what they wanted. Sadly, whilst they worshipped, they were calculating what their commercial and agricultural interests were. And they were giving their workers a hard time.
It is fatally easy for Christians, too, to divorce their worship from their business interests. Plenty of people sing heartily at Sunday services but then fail to provide properly for their staff and engage in adversarial methods on Monday. In a number of places in the Bible, worshippers are cautioned not to disconnect their faith from their social obligations, to ensure that they treat those “weaker” than themselves with justice and fairness. Loving your neighbour is more than being on good terms with the next-door acquaintances. It means treating all other human beings with dignity and care, especially those who are at the bottom of the pile.
Lord, help us to align our worship with our other responsibilities.