Summary: Jeremiah condemned the pretentious worship of God and exalted the sincere worship of God. The contrast is great, especially when we examine the two attitudes separately.
Pretense or Sincerity?
(Jeremiah, Selected Verses)
1. Three ministers were talking about prayer in general and the appropriate and effective positions for prayer. As they were talking, a telephone repairman was working on the phone system in the background. One minister shared that he felt the key was in the hands. He always held his hands together and pointed them upward as a form of symbolic worship. The second suggested that real prayer was conducted on your knees. The third suggested that they both had it wrong--the only position worth its salt was to pray while stretched out flat on your face. By this time the phone man couldn’t stay out of the conversation any longer. He interjected, "I found that the most powerful prayer I ever made was while I was dangling upside down by my heels from a power pole, suspended forty feet above the ground." [sermon central]
2. Most of us would argue that it is not the position of the body, but the attitude of the heart that matters most. And, even on that count, the man dangling from the wire was probably the sincere and intense in his praying!
3. When it comes to acts of worship like prayer, singing praises, Scripture reading, our minds need to be engaged, our attitude reverent.
4. But if you are not intent upon pleasing God, if the Holy Spirit has no place in your life, then prayer, like the Christian life in general, is DULL with a capital "D." The difference is best seen in our attitudes. We can regulate behaviors, but we cannot coerce others into attitudes that reflect a submissive spirit to God.
Main Idea: Jeremiah condemned the pretentious worship of God and exalted the sincere worship of God. The contrast is great, especially when we examine the two attitudes separately.
I. Serving God in Pretense INSULTS Him
A. Half-hearted RETURN (3:6-10, 12:2)
1. Conviction or fad/peer pressure? Religious trends can be fad-based.
2. Best-selling secular author and expert in consumer behavior, Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, "The Tipping Point" comes to this conclusion:
"Character, then, isn’t what we think it is, or, rather, what we want it to be. It isn’t a stable, easily identifiable set of closely related traits, and it only seems that way because of a glitch in the way our brains are organized. Character is more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstances and context. The reason that most of us seem to have a consistent character is that most of us are really good at controlling our environment."
3. I would like to think that some of us have convictions that supersede environment, --not that environment does not impact us, which is why we should try to watch our environment. And if there is one conviction I would love all of us to have, it is this: bring everything back to the Word!
4. The so-called revival under King Josiah was a fad and did not result in solid convictions -- only peer-related religion. Many people were supposedly born-again in the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s -- part of a fad? The faith of the Bible has now become old hat, and they are looking for something new & different. Jesus taught that only the few, not the many (Matthew 7:123), would find the road to life.
5. Jesus taught few, not the many (Matthew 7:123), would find the road to life.
6. God wants us to return to Him with our hearts, not from a trend.
B. Ignorant and ingrained with EVIL (4:22, 13:23)
1. No understanding, SKILLED in evil (4:22)
2. STUBBORN by habit (13:23)
These passages give us a theological picture of addiction. Addiction occurs when we practice sin and then find that the sin is now part of who we are.
God’s alternative to addiction is addiction. Addiction to honoring Him, His Word, His truth, His ways, His correction, and addiction to balancing all that God says.
C. Trying to keep God AT BAY through rituals (7:3-13)
They did not come to worship God and acknowledge their dependence upon Him.
God did not matter for daily life. Religious reality and real life were two separate things.
1. The TEMPLE or good luck charm?
• The Jews: protected because God’s temple was located there.
• I get calls for people wanting to get married in a church building…style/superstition
The relationship of faith to politics is a difficult question. But the relationship of faith to morality is not! You cannot embrace the doctrinal truths about God and reject His moral demands. #1 reason people turn away from the Lord & church, in my opinion, is that they do not want to even try to live by Christian standards. (church IS for strugglers)