Worship without justice is idle worship

I was always taught that Christians should not take each other to court. This is based mainly upon I Corinthians 6:1-8. Christians should allow the church to judge in cases of dispute and not rely upon pagan courts. I am not sure how much that is applicable today but that is for another time and another discussion.

The interesting thing is that God often takes Israel to court in the Bible! Just to take one example, Isaiah 1 is a court case brought by God against his people. “Hear, O Heaven, Listen, O earth!” (Isa 1:2). God calls on the heavens and the earth to bear witness to the complaint he brings to his people. The heavens and the earth are witness to the sealing of the covenant (Deut 30:19; 31:28 and 32:1) so they stand as witnesses to the breaking of that covenant.

The very interesting point here in Isaiah is that the rebellion that the Israelites have done is to have “forsaken the LORD” and “spurned the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 1:4). How have they done this? They did this, not by worshiping other gods–they were obviously were worshiping the LORD (Isa 1:11-15) but were violent and not protecting the most vulnerable (vss. 16-17, 23).

Amos 5 has the same complaint.

21 “I hate, I despise your feasts,
    and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
    I will not look upon them.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
    to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
    and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

This is the LORD’s complaint against his people, we often are so taken up with our religion that we do not care for the vulnerable and needy. Our theology becomes more important than those who God cares about. When I hear people say, “it was a good time of worship”, I think what they mean is, “we enjoyed the singing”. But would Isaiah and Amos agree? Singing without justice and righteousness is idle worship or do I mean “Idol worship”?