A while back, my husband would come home singing that silly song on the radio, “Umma do me,” by Rocko. (If you look at the lyrics, it really is a stupid song.) This is the overall message I constantly hear in our world today. We do what we want, when we want, and how we want without much regard for the God who created us. We have forgotten that by professing the name of Jesus we are commissioned to be His hands and feet in this world. This isn’t a new problem. We just sing about it now. In the second section of Malachi, we see the Priests of Israel called out for “doing them”. They were unfaithful to their purpose and they dishonored God.
“If I am father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master where is the respect due me… It is you priests who show contempt for my name.” But you ask, “How have we shown contempt for your name?”(Malachi 1:6) The priests hearts have strayed so far from God they don’t even realize they have departed from Him. They show contempt by bringing defiled and useless offerings into the temple. Instead of living lives that are an example to the people, they have become indifferent, desensitized, and irreverent for the things of God. Malachi tells them God is not pleased, and that it would be better to shut the temple doors than to practice hypocrisy and light useless fires on God’s altar. (Malachi 1:10)
These seem like pretty harsh words, and they might be; however, these are also words that we need to hear today. In one of Peter’s letters, he writes, we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9) As a result of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we are all priests. We, who profess Jesus as Lord, have been set apart and commissioned to be instruments of His grace, love, mercy and freedom. Just like the priests of the Old Testament, we too have the great privilege of helping people encounter the living God and experience His kingdom here on earth. God is telling the priests and US: Do what I’ve called you to do and don’t do it halfheartedly, indifferent, or pretending like you care.
When we lose our passion for the things of God, we quickly cast Him to the margins of our daily life. We’ve elevated ourselves as God of our own little world. We go about our normal activities so preoccupied with ourselves as if God were not involved in our daily routines. Unfortunately, we sometimes look more like the world than our loving Father. I think it breaks God’s heart when we don’t respect and honor the things He respects and honors. Warren Wiersbe says, “If our concept of God is so low that we think He’s pleased with cheap halfhearted worship, then we don’t know the God of the Bible.” (Wiersbe, 1526) It doesn’t mean we come to Him perfect with our lives put together, but it does mean we bring Him every part of our life, so He can use us. If we profess that He is Lord of our life, it has to change every part of us!
In the midst of God’s discipline of the priests, we see God’s grace, mercy, and goodness as He gives the priests a warning to set their hearts back on God and honor His name. He reminds them of His covenant to give them life and peace. (Malachi 2:5) In His goodness, He is always calling us back to right relationship with Him. From the very beginning with Adam and Eve, God has always given his beloved people a choice– to serve him or serve the world. We can’t do both. Have we cast Him aside? Have we become distracted and indifferent? Are our offerings to Him only what is leftover after we’ve given to everything else? Do we need to make our heart right again? Let’s get on our knees and ask for forgiveness. May our sacrifices never be lame, sick, or diseased!
We have been given a huge responsibility. As followers of Jesus we have been entrusted with His precious truth, with His Holy Spirit and power, and to be bringers of His light to our world. Let’s be authentic, genuine and faithful followers of Jesus because the world needs it!