One of the things Solomon looks at in his search for the answer to the meaning of life is religion. In 5:1 he warns us to watch our step when we go into God’s house. Watch our step? Why?
There are many religions in the world. But all religions have something in common – ritual. Like: before entering, dip your fingers in water and make the sign of the cross. Pick up the beads and recite a prayer over and over. Bow down facing east every day at just the right time. Touch the box before entering the house.
Religions have set rules one must obey in order to follow that religion. That’s why you hear that Christianity is not a religion. It’s a relationship.
There are dozens of churches on this island where I live, and you will find dozens of expressions of worship. Oh, there is order to worship. But each church has the freedom to express worship as they wish, and still be a Christian church IF Jesus is proclaimed as Savior, Lord, and the Son of God whose death on the cross paid for the sins of the world.
But there might be a danger to making even our freedom in worship become religion. So many of us barge into a worship service like we’re attending a family reunion or a football game. We come laughing, joking, and high-fiving, while we sip on our lattes. We sing the praise songs over and over with our minds on what’s for lunch, or we work up that feeling of euphoria some equate with worship. We go through the motions, because that’s what we’re supposed to do.
But is that worship? Or is it religion? Is that nurturing a relationship or going through the motions?
Solomon goes on in chapter 5 to tell us our worship may be the same as the sacrifice of fools. Don’t be hasty in word, rather listen. Worship is communion with God, not performing for Him. It’s that connection that allows Him to place a finger on sin in our lives, to encourage us, to teach us. We’ve got to quiet our hearts, and listen.
The king also talks about the kinds of vows we make to God. Do not be mistaken, God takes us seriously. You don’t say something to God, then later take it back. “Oops. My bad” doesn’t cut it with our Holy God. How serious are we when we come into the presence of that Holy God in order to worship Him?
Whether you attend a church that uses rituals, or one in which there are no rules, why are you there? My prayer is that we will attend our churches because we love Jesus, because we have acknowledged that we are sinners in need of the Savior, and have accepted Him as the only means to the Father. I pray that as we walk through those doors, we have hearts that are open to fellowship with the Creator God, and worship Him like He deserves.
Don’t let religion get in the way.