Do You Have His Attention? Pt. 1

You are nothing but show-offs! The prophet Isaiah was right when he wrote that God had said: "All of you praise me with your words, but you never really think about me. It is useless for you to worship me, when you teach rules made up by humans." You disobey God's commands in order to obey what humans have taught.~ Mark 7: 6-8 (CEV)

     What if we sang the most beautiful songs, directed the most profound plays, created the most dynamic choreography, designed the most elaborate garments...and God hated it all? It's probably very difficult for most of us to imagine that God would actually hate what we do for Him, because God is Love, but there are many places in the Word that tells us exactly how He actually feels about things that we do in His name, that He despises. Here is the first example:

[...]Cain brought some crops from the land as an offering to the Lord. Abel also brought some choice parts of the firstborn animals from his flock. The Lord approved of Abel and his offering, but he didn’t approve of Cain and his offering. So Cain became very angry and was disappointed. Then the Lord asked Cain, “Why are you angry, and why do you look disappointed? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? But if you don’t do well, sin is lying outside your door ready to attack. It wants to control you, but you must master it.”~ Gen 4:3-7 (GW)

     Why didn't God accept Cain's offering? Many commentaries give different explanations, but the collective thought is that Abel's offering had something that Cain's lacked. The passage reads that Abel brought some choice parts of the firstborn animals from his flock; but Cain just brought some crops. God didn't approve of Abel's offering more because he raised animals and Cain was a farmer, but it does say that Abel brought his best offering to God. Cain became angry at God because of His disapproval, instead of looking to himself to learn from his mistake. We all know that in the end, Cain attacked his brother and killed him. Was he envious? Maybe, the Word doesn't say that he was envious but it does say that he was angry and disappointed. What was in Cain's heart that caused God to despise his offering, leading up to the killing of his own brother?

     Going back to our original question, what if we present all of these offerings that are wonderful in our own eyes, and even to the people who experience them, and God doesn't approve of them? Our garments may look amazing, our selections may receive standing ovations, our presentations may be flawless, and still not get God's attention because He is looking at something else: The condition of our hearts. If we are envious, prideful, unforgiving, rude, boastful, greedy, arrogant, cliquish, or competitive, it taints our worship and God will not accept our offerings. It doesn't matter how many complements we receive from others when God knows the "real deal". The big question in all of this is: Do we have His attention?

     We are living in a time where worship arts are becoming more focused on outward appearances than inward commitment. Some of us with knowledge have made up our own" rules of the trade" to alienate or make a profit off of others, or make them beholden to us. Competitiveness and the drive to please the crowd can easily take the place of seeking to please God, but we don't have to follow this trend. In Part II, we will learn how to stay focused on the Lord, and not get caught in the many snares that the enemy has set for us.

Stay tuned...