My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.Ezekiel 33:31-32 NIV
When I read God’s word to Ezekiel here I could not help but think about myself and the church today. We gather together in our buildings and call it worship. We enjoy the beautiful and uplifting music. And we attentively listen to the preacher bring us a message from the Bible. And we speak words of love and praise.
But does the hour or two a week we spend together produce any change in our lives? Do we put into practice what we hear from God’s word. What is preached from the pulpit, or taught in our Sunday school classes? Or are they just of intellectual significance?
When I go to a movie I may be impressed with the message, the acting or the special effects. When I go to a concert I may be moved by the experience. Or when I go out to a fancy restaurant, I may take great delight in the company and in the meal. But generally they are not something that will have more than a momentary influence on who I am.
But hearing God’s word should not be like that. It is not to be just an entertaining or moving experience. It should be life changing. We are called to put into practice what we read and hear in God’s word. This includes my private devotions as well as those more public experiences like our weekly worship services.
Let God’s word penetrate into the depths of your being. And put it into practice. Let the Holy Spirit use God’s word to conform you the the image of Christ.