I Hate Religion - 09/05/99
Mala 3:6 (NIV) "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, `How are we to return?' 8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, `How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.
Mala 2:5 (NIV) "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name.
6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.
I hate religion. It gets in the way of relationship – it focuses on what we must do to be loved by God, instead of on what God has done because we are loved; it becomes a burden. It leads to ‘holier than thou’ and ‘how little can I get away with’ attitudes. Billy Graham compared religion to a vaccination – a small dose prevents you from getting the real thing.
Malachi – the last of the prophets of the old covenant until John the Baptist (promised in Mal. 4:5 as Elijah). Addressed the religiousity of his day: people giving defective animals for sacrifice (try giving them to the governor and see what he says!), not giving the whole tithe (robbing God). Indicated their hearts were not wholly turned to God. Calls them to return to God and God would return to them.
What God wants is a relationship. The covenant came before the law. The new covenant is based on Jesus Christ coming to us to re-establish relationship based on his giving of himself for us.
God still offers life and peace, desires from us reverence. What do we bring to the Lord?