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God had commanded his people to hold these religious feasts and to bring him burned offerings, so how can he say he despises them?

It’s because they had become actions of the body, not outpourings of the heart. They were going through the motions, keeping up with the rituals, but, as it says somewhere else ‘their hearts are far from me’.

I would look that verse up, but I’ve just spent ages looking for an article I read recently that was worth linking to, and I really need to get on with my day!

The article was this one. I can’t remember who I got it from, but it talks about the ‘Clapham Sect’ (most famous for being the group that campaigned successfully for the abolition of the slave trade), and how their Christianity was characterised by both ‘personal spiritual formation’ and social activism.

The author seems to think this is a radical idea that evangelicals need to embrace/rediscover, whereas that has always been my understanding and experience of what faith is all about, but whether the idea is new to you or so ingrained as to be self-evident, the article is worth a read. I think it gets the emphasis right on why we do social activism:

“Spirituality and cultural engagement should be intimately related as our public activism flows from our personal faith and localized faith communities.”

It’s not something we do to earn God’s favour, as the spiritual festivals mentioned in Amos were, or something we do separate from or as an alternative to meeting together in church, but as an outpouring of our faith.

Justice and righteousness can only flow out of us if we’re intimately connected to their source, and that intimate connection will naturally – perhaps inevitably – lead to acts of justice and righteousness, because as James put it: faith without works is dead.

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