“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me…I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:21-24 NIV)
At the heart of Music With a Mission (MWAM) is the understanding of a sobering reality: God is not impressed with the way we look, the songs we sing, the show we put on, or the “noise” we make for Him. No, God is concerned with the thoughts and intentions of our hearts; He desires justice and righteousness to flood the earth. And even when we look like good people on the outside, God sees our heart. We may fool others, we may even fool ourselves, but God will not be fooled.
Quit playing religion games. It is true that God delights in the praises of His people, but if that praise is hypocritical or fake, it is stench and noise to God. He desires sacrificial acts of justice and love, but if there is blood on our hands and sin in our heart, God detests our sacrifice. It means nothing to God if we walk and talk and look like a Christian, but hold onto sin in our heart.
How can we as imperfect people, who mess up and fall short and sin every day, ever hope to please a holy God, to offer Him a sacrifice that He accepts? What does He expect from us?
Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me…I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:13-18 NIV)
God simply asks us to get real with Him. Stop hiding behind a mask, even the “Christian” mask we so often wear. Confess every fault to Him—every last one. Hold nothing back. Keep nothing hidden in dark corners of the heart. Release the clenched fists desperately clinging to secret sins. Then, and only then, can God do His work of washing away the stains on our hearts. Then He will hear our prayers, take joy in our songs, and be pleased with our acts of justice and righteousness.
We are not perfect people, and we must never pretend to be. We must continue to confess our faults to God. We must live lives of honesty and openness; lives of brokenness before God. Only then will we be able to lift songs to Him that He will delight in, songs of mercy and grace. Only then can we live lives of sacrifice, justice, and love for all, lives that will truly honor God. We must look beyond ourselves and live for others. We must give our lives for the ones who have nothing to give: the oppressed, the fatherless, the orphans, the widows, the elderly, the unwanted children, the impoverished and the enslaved.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)