The key verses go on to say that God will not even accept
the burnt and grain offerings nor notice the peace offerings. In Old Testament
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5: 23-24
God does not want your sacrifice, your service, or your gift without your obedience first. The very hymns of praise and music of our harps become noise to God if they are sung and played with a disobedient heart. With a distant heart. With a heart not in relationship with God. We need to take heed of the warnings from Amos.
And what does the obedient heart
in relationship with God look like? They key verses end with Amos telling
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1Corinthians 2: 14
The things of God are foolishness to man. Our praise needs to be upwardly focused on God, without whom, we would have nothing and our criticism needs to be internally focused on how we can better represent God to the world which does not know Him yet. Along with this prescription for justice we need to be living righteously before God. Remember, God understands hypocrisy. He understands it individually and corporately. There is a story I read once about a pastor who dressed up like a homeless person and sat on the steps of his church one Sunday morning. No one stopped to say anything to him as they went in to worship God. The pastor then went in and sat in a pew toward the back and watched as everyone switched seats to get away from him. Then he took to the pulpit and preached on the essence of true Christianity. The helping of the widows and orphans. The mighty flood of justice and endless river of righteous living God seeks from His church. It is a difference between going to church and being the church.
For too long there has been too
much going to church and not enough being the church. Too much show and
pretense during our religious festivals and solemn assemblies, while our
worship has become noisy to God. Our offerings are no longer soothing to God if
our hearts remain far from Him. He seeks relationship, not pretense. He seeks
obedience, not sacrifice. Amos warned