What’s the Beef?

Belted Galloways, Rockport, Maine

What does God want from us? Does He have a beef with our religious practices? He may! He answered that question when He spoke these thoughts to the nation of Israel:

I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.               But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens.
For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.                     I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. Do I eat the meat of bulls? Do I drink the blood of goats?
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.”
 (Psalm 50:5-15 (NLT2)

God has “no complaint” with religious acts and traditions (sacrifices or burnt offerings) when used as proper worship symbols. However, if these become rote, religious duty or are used for feel good, self-righteous performance, they are meaningless. And if they are elevated to be the object of worship itself or become substitutes for  sincere obedience and true gratitude, they are totally unacceptable. God said, “I do not need” them any more than I need more cattle!

Humanity is deeply indebted to God for His patient care. “God is love”. The historical narrative of God’s relationship with Israel demonstrates His immense compassion for Israel and for us. In spite of their abuse, neglect, and rejection, God repeatedly, patiently, graciously and mercifully forgave Israel as they repentantly turned back to him. He has given His heart to humanity with a love which is desperate, extreme and immeasurably vast. (Romans 8:28,38-39). Christ’s “sacrifice for us is the undeniable proof of that profound “agape” love. He “loved us to the end” by paying the gruesome, ultimate price for our redemption, bearing our sins upon the cross, and enabling our broken spirits to reconcile with God. (John 13:1)

Sincere gratitude and its resultant obedience to what is best are the “sacrifices” which demonstrate that we love Him. The author of Hebrews speaks of “sacrifices of praise to God” which include “the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name” , doing “good “ and sharing ” what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” These are the marks of genuine worship.

God wants our hearts! Our lives of repentance and trust! Our love!

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