Although atheism is rife in many countries, but worshipping God in a way He does not care for is also a problem. We must not be judgmental, which is God’s prerogative, but we cannot help seeing some of the differences between first century Christianity and that which exists today. Our first aim must be to make sure we ourselves are approaching God and His Son in the way He desires.

Our second aim should be to try to help others in their approach to worship God effectively. Jesus, in confronting this failure, said that the type of worship he was seeing was “in vain”. How tragic that any worship should be in vain. One cannot completely blame the atheist and agnostic when they turn their backs on Christianity as they see such a contradictory mix of churches. A major reason we read the Bible every day is to get a right understanding of what God and His Son Jesus require of us. Only through God’s word do we learn how they should be served and worshipped.

Today in Mark 7, Jesus calls the Pharisees and Scribes “hypocrites” (verse 6), that is, people who put on a false front. He quotes Isaiah 29:13 where God declared, “This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, in vain do they worship me; teaching as doctrine the commandments of men” (verse 7).

How much worship today is pleasing to God? Only God knows, but this quotation shows there are two aspects we must get right. The first is our attitude of heart, for worship is not just a ritual; it must reflect the desires we feel in our heart. Secondly, the things we teach and believe must be in accord with God’s word.

Words in the last chapter of Romans spring to mind, “watch for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites …” (verses 17,18). Let us make sure our appetite is fed every day by the word of God, the words of Jesus ringing in our minds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).