Well, it’s that time of year again! With back-to-school season come all kinds of activities, obligations, and restarts of all sorts of things.
For me, the start of a new school year means teacher in-services, college chapels and motivational talks to incoming freshmen.
This year, I picked one passage to speak to Christian schools who asked me to help kick off the year. The title of the message was: “The Syllabus for the Christian life.”
The three mandatory elements of the syllabus for the Christian life come from Micah 6:8, a passage I’m sure you’re familiar with:
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8
In this passage, we see what God wants from a believer, well, wants is not the right term; requires is the word He uses. But, the verses just before verse eight tell us the things God does not want, and I find them interesting enough to share with you as CrossPoint leadership.
6“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” – Micah 6:6–7 (ESV)
- Coming before the Lord and bowing before God most high… it’s not a bad way to start, but when it’s all about putting on a show, that’s not what God wants. We are all guilty, remember the last time you tripped in public? You defied gravity and fought through incredible pain just to pop up as quickly as possible and scan the horizon to make sure no one saw you fall. We all care what people think. What God doesn’t want is our public displays of devotion just to be seen.
- Coming before him with burnt offerings… that should do the trick right? Unfortunately, many of us have gotten into the bad thought habit of believing that when we do something “for God” then He owes us. We would never say it out loud, but we wonder when stuff is going bad if maybe somehow we have shortchanged God and He is letting us know. Offerings are good when they come from the heart, but when they are more like club dues leading you to believe there are benefits you deserve, that’s a no no. What God doesn’t want are our sacrifices in which you think He now owes you.
- Pleasing the Lord with thousands of rams and 10,000 rivers of oil… now that’s a worship service! All the spectacle of temple worship, but times 10,000. It would’ve put Hillsong the shame! Great worship is great, but only if it’s greatly focused on the One who is Great. Many times when people say, “Worship was amazing!” What they are actually saying is, “Man, I really enjoyed that.” In that space let me remind you, worship isn’t for you. The question we should ask ourselves following worship is, “Do you think God was pleased?” What God doesn’t want is worship that’s pointed at Him, but meant for you.
- Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for my own sins… that is the cry of a desperate and devoted person, kinda. When suffering from guilt rather than conviction we can get some crazy ideas, and lead us to silly statements and inappropriate commitments. Even if we are really remorseful about something in our past, even the recent past (like this morning), we need to remember that God is not into double billing. If you are so remorseful you’d be willing to offer your own son, don’t forget that your bill has already been paid by another Father who offered His Son in your place. What God doesn’t want is absurd repentance out of guilt that doesn’t lead us to grace.
Sometimes it’s important for us to know what God wants, like doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with Him. But, we must never forget that those of us in the “business” of ministry can sometimes find ourselves walking in the weirdness of rules we made up, feelings that are not valid, and ideas that are not godly.
Let me encourage you, you don’t need to come up with something new. “He has told you, O man, what is good,” and all we must do is rest in Him.
I love you guys, and I’m thankful for you every day. Many blessings out there in CrossPoint land!