I am reading through the minor prophets these days and found a mind-jarring passage in Zechariah 7. This is God talking, and I’m taking these quotes from THE MESSAGE:
When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You’re interested in religion; I’m interested in people.
It’s a poignant contrast, isn’t it? You get to be concerned about the religion or the people, but they don’t mix too well. Religion is all abut using God’s things for our own gain or amusement. God’s heart is about loving the loveless, healing the broken, comforting the distraught and standing up for the marginalized in our world.
How well does religion do that, even if that religion is Christianity? Look at the political involvement of the so-called Christian conservative that is so passionate for dead-on theology (pun intended) compared to their concern for people who are in need? How many congregational meetings did I sit through in my past that were mostly about the needs of the institution and how we could make things better for us? Were we really doing it for God, or for our religion?
That was God’s conclusion as well in Zechariah. So instead of trying to protect our religion, keep it safe, and try to use it to make our lives better, this is what God asks us to do:
Treat one another justly;
Love your neighbors.
Be compassionate with each other.
Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors and the poor.
Don’t blot and scheme against one another—that’s evil!
Don’t we find ourselves closer to God’s heart living each day taking an interest in the people around us, than we do trying to protect or develop our religion? I think so!
And this is the Old Testament! So cool!