Two Strings to Tune
Liturgy is an effective teacher. The way we do things and the order in which we do them shapes us and shows others about the worship of God. Because we are souls with bodies, the outward parts of our worship matter.
Likewise, because we are whole persons, because our thinking and our acting are necessarily connected, it is dishonest to conceal heart problems with religious ceremony.
God gave Israel instructions for how to draw near to Him. The sequence of sacrifices cleansed and consecrated the worshipper for sake of communion with God. But Israel often followed the directions and failed to bring their heart along. So, for example, David wrote:
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; > you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. > The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; > a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. > (Psalm 51:16–17)
We are not obedient no matter how carefully we follow certain liturgy if we do not deal with our hearts before the Lord. Then our conduct must match. In David’s case, the song followed and finished with (often ignored verses):
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; > build up the walls of Jerusalem; > then will you delight in right sacrifices, > in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; > then bulls will be offered on your altar. > (Psalm 51:18–19)
A two-stringed guitar has two ways to be out of tune. Our souls and our service are His, both must be tuned for harmony. The inside must be right. And if the inside is right, it must come out right.
God loves our worship when we offer our sacrifices as humble, whole-hearted, open-handed people. He made blood and tongues and knees and hearts for worship. He is pleased with broken hearts and then delights in the offerings we are. True worship begins in the heart, but it doesn’t end there.