The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught."
When I was at university, a worryingly long time ago now, I used to attend the meeting of the campus Christian Union religiously every week. It was wonderful to meet together with other young Christians, learn about God together, and sing his praises. There were occasions, however, when I wondered if I was going along as part of a spiritual act of worship, or if I simply turned up because the other members had become my friends. Would I have got just as much out of attending the student choir, for instance? I soon began to wonder whether there were other members who were “social Christians” too.
“Social Christians” are more common than you might think. Particularly in middle class circles, attending church is similar to going to a Rotary Club or Women’s Institute meeting; it’s a place to be seen, to chat with like-minded people, network and maybe do a bit of charity work. Many “social Christians” do great things within their community.
Are “social Christians” missing the point, however?
According to scripture, they most certainly are.
God knows why people attend church. He knows our motivation. As today’s verse shows, he knows when people honour him with their lips whilst their hearts have no love for him. He knows when we attend church not to worship him, but simply because we are following unwritten rules that lay down how a ‘decent’ person behaves.
When we’re singing in church, or praying, or putting cash into the offering plate, or contributing to the church roof fund, those around us have no idea what is in our hearts and minds. But God does. He knows if we love him with all our heart, and if our worship is a genuine outpouring of our love for him. He also knows if we’re just goi through the motions because that is what is expected of people like us.
Be honest with yourself today. Is your faith sincere? Do you love God with your whole heart? Or is your faith a charade, lacking any substance, an act that you out on for the benefit of those around you? Why not decide today to consider all that God has done for you, and consider whether your response to him is sufficient?
Simon is a teacher, writer and preacher based in London in the United Kingdom. Simon enjoys sailing, and is a keen geocacher. Simon is married to Claire.
As part of our active lifestyle of prayer and Bible reading, we are currently reading a small section of the Bible together each day and sharing our responses to it with each other. We also publish a short devotional thought on a key verse or two from each day's passage to prompt prayer or reflection.
Current Series Genesis 27-50
The hub of our online community, where Christians and others from around the world can meet to discuss tricky issues, ask questions, and share fellowship.
Longer, more in depth articles encompassing Bible studies, testimonies, inspirational pieces of writing and more.