Being religious doesn’t make us right!

God didn’t create us to be in a religion.

May 8

Eli was waiting beside the road to hear the news of the battle, for his heart trembled for the safety of the Ark of God. When the messenger arrived and told what had happened, an outcry resounded throughout the town.

1 Samuel 4:13

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Being religious doesn’t make us right!

The Philistines have once again attacked the nation of Israel.  The battle has not been going well for Israel and so they send for the Ark of the Covenant.  Once the Ark arrives, the Israelites are encouraged and shout enthusiastically.  The Philistines hear that the Ark has arrived, and they are concerned that this is going to give the Israelites an advantage in battle.  They respond by attacking with greater force in a sense of desperation.  During the battle the Ark of the Covenant is captured by the Philistines and Eli’s two sons, Phinehas and Hophni are killed.

Eli is the priest in charge of overseeing the worship of God and the artifacts of the tabernacle.  His sons were also priests, but they did not take their priestly duties very seriously.  In fact, they took advantage of people and abused their role as priests.  In 1 Samuel 2 Eli was told that because he had failed to discipline them correctly and allowed them to blaspheme the worship of God, they both would die on the same day.  Upon hearing the news Eli will fall over backwards and break his neck and die.  God’s Word was fulfilled in a tragic way.

In our verse for the day, Eli is waiting at the gate of the city waiting for the Ark of the Covenant to be returned.  What strikes me about this text and verse is Eli’s lax attitude about his responsibility to his sons.  At no point do you sense that Eli takes any responsibility for their behavior or show any concern for their welfare.  And it seems to be in direct contradiction with his attitude toward the things of God.

Eli is trembling for the safe return for the Ark.  He seems to be passionate about the things of God.  The contradiction is that he is not that passionate about doing what God wants him to do.  He is passionate about the religion of God but not all that passionate about the God of his religion.  God didn’t create us to be in a religion.  God created us to be in a relationship with Him and to worship Him with every aspect of our lives.

Our relationship to God must translate into every area of our lives.  The way I work, play, relax, and worship must all display my relationship to God.  True worship happens every day and all day.  True worship of God includes strict obedience to His Word in all areas of my life.  And in those areas of my life where I struggle, God expects me to humble myself before Him, repent, and allow Him to help me change.

Eli failed to take his faith home and make it a part of his family’s daily life.  The artifacts of religion serve as guides and symbols.  They can never replace obedience to God’s Word.  Never let religion interfere with complete obedience to God.  God looks at the heart, not at the acts of religious worship.  True worship of God comes from a heart that is humble and broken before God.  Jesus, help us to keep it real.

Daily Bible Reading Plan:
Daily Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 2:22-4:22; John 5:24-47; Psalm 106:1-12; Proverbs 14:30-31

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