1 Samuel 15.22 warns, does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams.
If you slowly read this verse and soak in it’s meaning, doesn’t it make sense that if there really is a God this is exactly how He would be? Doesn’t it make sense that if there really is a God He couldn’t be fooled by our religion into thinking we were good? Neither would religious activities truly make a person good if the normal activities of their life were evil. Wouldn’t obedience to God seem to make the most sense as to what God really requires?
Every religion is an attempt to appease god except Christianity. Explore the world’s religions and you find detailed requirements for making the god happy, that determine human destiny, but have nothing to do with human interaction in a positive light. These man made religions require periods of fasting while ignoring the lying, killing and raping that occurs during the fast. These false religions require temple attendance and prayer meetings while ignoring racism, honesty and giving.
Religion is necessary. Religion is the means often times for helping us make the connection to God. Religion helps us express our devotion to God. But the One True God measures our love by our obedience. The One True God defines love for Him by our practice of loving one another.
The One True God enjoys our prayers, our singing and our offerings but He commands that we love our neighbor, that we forgive those who sin against us, that we give to those who ask of us, that we serve further those who demand some from us, that we place the needs of others before ourselves. These commands, these expectations, these requirements are much harder than going to meetings or skipping a few meals.
These commands are impossible, and few have ever obeyed them well. Those who have we call saints. All of us must acknowledge our poverty of spirit and seek God’s pardon for failing to obey. Religion is easier than obedience.
Fortunately, the One True God is merciful and gracious, full of loving kindness for those who humbly seek Him and receive Him as King through Jesus the sacrificial Savior. It’s also much easier to obey God when love is the motive rather than religion.