“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1
Paul says there is holy and acceptable worship, which means there is unholy and unacceptable worship. What makes worship unacceptable?
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, (2) “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” (3) He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? (4) For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ (5) But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” (6) he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. (7) You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: (8) “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; (9) in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” Matthew 15:1-9
We can be so casual and limited in the scope of our worship.
Jesus informs these religious men that keeping spiritual man made traditions at the expense of His commands is unacceptable worship. He accuses them of being hypocrites because they say they are honoring God with what they do when their hearts are far from Him. You can do religious things for God and it not be worship. Jesus was saying the acceptable worship would have been to love and honor their parent instead of the religious acts they performed to appear spiritual.
How many times have we gone through the religious motions. Any offering not from the heart is not acceptable. From styles of singing to liturgy (the work of the people), if any of it was taken away and we only complain about missing is the tradition, then it ain’t worship – yes I said “ain’t!” Anything we do to worship that is not all about God’s presence to us and through us is not acceptable worship. It must come from the heart. A heart for Him, not the tradition.
Jesus did not rebuke the traditions. He rebuked men who would not follow their heart in worship. Truth – they worshipped the tradition, though they said they worshipped God.
What if you showed up at your next church gathering and the minister said we are not going to sing or we’re going to change Sunday School, or meet in home groups, or what ever you are used to. Would you object? Why? Would it be because you were going to miss God’s presence or because you would miss the man made tradition? Get honest.
Worship must be from the heart!