The purpose of piety…

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Micah 6:6 “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? 7 Will 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?” 8 He has told you, O mortal, 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?”

The prophet Micah is writing before Israel was defeated by the Babylonians – who would lay siege to Jerusalem, destroy the temple of God, take the treasure from the temple, and send most of the Israelites into exile. What is the problem God is pointing out through the prophet Micah? Here is what one of my bible commentaries says:

“Micah is in good company with other prophets when he clearly states that God is more interested in the way people live their everyday lives than in their religious practices.” (New Interpreter’s Bible)

The point of religious practices (worship, praying, fasting, and so on) is to change one’s heart to come into alignment with the heart of God. That was true in Micah’s day and it’s true in ours as well. When we go through the motions of religious piety, but continue in wickedness and injustice, we’re missing the point.

Heavenly Father, we humans are your hands and feet in this world. As your sons and daughters we represent you to others. Give us grace to be transformed from the inside out into people who love you, love one another, and love the world. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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