Can We Worship God in Vain?

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He said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me…’” (Mark 7:6-7)

Is it possible to worship God in vain? In other words, is it possible that after all that we do in the name of worshiping, it could all count for nothing? Yes. Jesus tells us: “I tell you, (many) will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’

Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out.” (Luke 13:24-28).

How do we know if we are worshipping God in vain? By cleansing the outside of the cup while leaving the inside dirty. In other words, we worship God in vain when we practice a false spirituality; when all that we do is just for a show, or when we live in pretense. We worship God in vain when we live by the “11th commandment” – never get caught.

We worship God in vain when we disregard the commandments of God and begin to follow human traditions instead. Jesus gave the example of how parents were being neglected in the name of “Corban” thereby going against the fourth commandment which states that we should honour our father and mother. This is just one of the many instances of how we could easily go against God’s precepts while claiming to be worshipping God at the same time.

Our Gospel passage calls for a thorough examination of conscience. Are there things that I am doing under the guise of religion that God is not happy with? If we fail to sincerely answer this question, we could come to the end of our lives and while standing before the judgement throne of God realize we have been worshiping God in vain and by then, it will be too late.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, as King Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple, may I be fully consecrated to you. May my worship never be in vain. Amen.

Bible Study: 1 Kings 8:22-23,27-30, Ps. 84:3-5,10-11, Mark 7:1-13).

Fr. Abu