Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. (Isaiah 1:17 NLT)
O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NLT)
“Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe." Psalm 15
The sacrifice pleasing to God is a humble spirit. Psalm 51:17
James 2:14 My brothers and sisters, what good does it do if someone claims to have faith but doesn’t do any good things? Can this kind of faith save him? 15 Suppose a believer, whether a man or a woman, needs clothes or food 16 and one of you tells that person, “God be with you! Stay warm, and make sure you eat enough.” If you don’t provide for that person’s physical needs, what good does it do? 17 In the same way, faith by itself is dead if it doesn’t cause you to do any good things.
The word religion is defined by Merriam-Webster as: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods. In the original Greek the word thréskeia is defined as ritual acts or ritual worship.
Rituals, rules, and ceremonies are not what God desires of us. God is not interested in your religion, what you call yourself, or what denomination you affiliate with. God doesn't offer us cliche's and empty words, he offers us Himself. When we see people in need- real people, with real needs- we have the tendency to offer them cliche's and empty words. "I'm praying for you," "It will all work out in the end," "This will make you stronger!" That is so much easier then taking time to stop whatever you had going on and give of yourself and your time. People need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a hand's on prayer time, comfort, mercy, etc. All of those things are born out of a relationship. God is interested in people and developing personal relationships with them. He created us to be relational. First and foremost to have a relationship with Him, and then to connect with one another.
Religion and ritual can create very prideful self-righteous individuals. They may do wonderful things, but for what reason? For a tax break, because it will make them look or feel good, because it is required or expected? God wants the motives to match up with the actions. He can create a humble spirit within us that desires to do what is right out of a love for God and for others. If we focus on rules and rituals, but forget about relationships then we have missed the whole point. Love God and Love Others, do what is right, be humble. God is more interested in the who and why then the what.
Look around and see what God is doing, He is always at work around us. We don't have to make up something to do for God, we just have to join Him in what He is already doing. By developing a relationship with God we can learn to know God's voice and His will for our lives.