A sermon on a whole life as whole worship, based on Isaiah 1:1-10 (Proper 14C).
Aim: To see that a whole life offered to God is worship.
In Isaiah 1:1-10 we have part of his first message to his people from God. It doesn’t start well. God begins by comparing His people to the rulers and people of Sodom and Gomorrah, towns so immoral that God destroyed them!
Surprisingly, God then goes on to say He is fed up with their sacrifices, festivals and prayers, which is odd since God started these things through Moses! Surely God wants us to keep praying to Him?
Meaning at the Time
This message is typical of the Old Testament prophets. Not just Isaiah, but many others say the same thing. It’s as though God’s people are using incense as a smoke screen to cover up their wrong doings, they are using the many sacrifices and festivals to try and distract his attention from their day-to-day lives. And we can see from Isaiah message, their ‘ordinary’ lives were not pleasing God. He wants v16-17 instead. God is just sick and tired of all the Temple worship, because it is fake.
Meaning & Application for Today
So, what is our response?
- Worship. We ask forgiveness, we give him thanks, we praise Him and we pray for others.
- Work. We follow the example of the prophets, Jesus and other disciples, bringing healing, justice, friendship and care in the world. (‘But we’re retired!’)
- Witness. We share the Good News – this is not something we hoard for ourselves, but rather we want everyone to enjoy what we have!
I note that the world loves to accuse us of being fakes, but they don’t want the whole package either, and they never did. Jesus and the prophets were killed because they offered that. We should not expect the godless to behave with grace.
Isaiah finishes on a hopeful note. If the people stop doing wrong and come to God for forgiveness, they can be clean again. If they’re willing and obedient they will have the best the land has to offer, but the disobedient will be destroyed.
We worship a whole God – father, son and holy spirit – and we don’t bring half a life of worship. We commit our whole selves and a whole life in worship, because through the grace of Jesus Christ, we can.