“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Over and over again in the prophets we see that God’s chief concern for the people was not that they got religion right, but that they got justice right. He complained about their offerings and sacrifices not because they weren’t done strictly according to the guidelines set out in the law, but because they pursued them without the accompanying set of behaviors (namely, a generous pursuit of justice for the least, last, and lost in their midst).
What this means for us is not that we should follow the trend of pop-church culture and eschew religion in all its forms in favor of something entirely more amorphous, but that we should pursue religion as it was meant to be practiced. We should let the rituals we perform lead us to a greater application of the truths toward which they point us. The rituals are not bad in and of themselves. They are intended to be pointers to a relationship; in other words, they are means, not ends. Let us treat them as such and make justice our goal. Then we will enjoy the favor of the Lord as we desire.