Scripture: Micah 6:6-8
Title: True Worship
- Content & packaging
On the wall behind me is the Tawa College crest on which are written the words
– Do justly
‘Do justly’ is a quote from the prophet Micah
– Let me read to you the context of these words
– From Micah chapter 6, verses 6-8 we read…
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 showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
May the Lord bless the reading of his word
Content & packaging:
[Hold up a packet of M&M’s]
– Who likes M&M’s?
– Okay – leave your hand up if you would like to come to the front to receive these M&M’s (you can bring an adult with you if you want)
– [Choose someone (close to the front) to come to the front]
Now, before I give you this bag of M&M’s I want to ask you a question – it’s not a trick question:
– Which of these two bags would you prefer?
– This one here which is empty?
– Or this one which is full?
– [Let them respond]
The full one – good choice – here is your bag of M&M’s
But before you go I want to ask you one more question
– Which of these two bags of M&M’s would you prefer?
– This big empty bag?
– Or this small full bag?
Okay – so even though the empty bag is much bigger, you would still prefer to have the smaller bag which is full
– That would be my preference too – here’s the smaller bag for you to give to someone you like or don’t like (up to you)
– Thanks for helping me – you can sit down now
The point here is that the contents of the bag are more important than the packaging
– It doesn’t matter how big and glossy and fancy the packaging is, without any M&M’s inside it is worthless
– Now it’s not that the packaging is necessarily bad in itself
– We need the packaging – the packet is good for holding the M&M’s together so they don’t roll all over the floor
– And it’s also good for letting you know what’s inside the bag
– The packaging only becomes rubbish when the bag is empty
In Micah 6 the prophet asks the question…
– Shall I come before [the Lord] 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 first four examples of ritual offerings listed here: burnt offerings, calves a year old, rams and oil, are like the packaging – they are only good if they are accompanied by the contents of the bag: justice, mercy and humility
– The last example of sacrificing a first born child is not packaging – it is poison – never good under any circumstances.
Micah is saying here: God is not pleased when we offer Him an empty bag
– God is more interested in the contents of our life than the packaging
– There’s no point in following a whole lot of religious rituals if we don’t live our lives with justice, mercy and humility
These days we don’t sacrifice animals to God – Jesus put an end to that by his death on the cross
– Generally speaking, these days our ritual offerings are things like giving money to the church and singing songs of praise
– But all that kind of stuff is packaging – it only becomes meaningful when it holds a life of justice, mercy and humility
– It’s not that we should stop giving financially and singing songs – those things are still important (we need the packet to hold everything together)
– But if singing or giving money or some other religious ritual becomes a substitute for justice, mercy & humility then we’ve got a problem
You see, it’s not either/or – it’s both/and
– It’s not either the packet or the M&M’s – it’s both the packet and the MM’s
– It’s not either attending Sunday services or practicing justice & mercy the rest of the week – it’s both those things together
– Like Jesus said in Matthew 23, when he was telling the Pharisees off:
– You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former. (It’s both/and – not either/or)
Worship of God needs to encompass all of life
– Offering ourselves (as living sacrifices) by doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with our God is true worship – this is faith in action
– And if we want to know what justice, mercy and humility are, we look to Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith
On the wall here is an invitation and response based on Micah 6, verse 8
What does the Lord require of you?
– To do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God