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, 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. Then attentively listen to the preacher bring us a message from God’s word. And we speak words of love and praise.
But does the hour or two a week we spend together result in any change in our lives? Do we put into practice what we have heard preached from the pulpit, or 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. And 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 obey 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.
Hear and obey God’s word to you. Let it penetrate into the depths of your being. And put it into practice. Let the Holy Spirit use God’s word to conform you to the image of Christ.