God doesn’t want religion, He wants relationship. When our worship of Him and the time that we spend with Him is born out of tradition or obligation, that worship is lukewarm to God. When we are lukewarm, God will simply spit us out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). When we just pay Him lip service, offering worship because it’s what we are expected to do, then our worship is based on man-made rules that we have been taught. It doesn’t come from our hearts. (Isaiah 29:13)
This was the problem with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law in Jesus’ day. They did everything out of tradition and man-made rules. Jesus called them out on this in Matthew 23 when He referred to them as hypocrites and white-washed tombs. Everything that they did looked great on the outside, but what was on the inside, in their hearts, was a different story (Matthew 23:27-28).
Worship done out of tradition or obligation is religion and it is not what God wants from us. What He does want is relationship. He wants worship that comes from the heart. Worship that comes from our desire to know Him, to be with Him, to love Him. Worship that is given in times of great joy, but in times of great heartache, as well. God desires for us to seek Him and to love Him with our whole heart, our whole soul, and our whole mind (Matthew 22:37). That kind of worship comes not out of religion but out of relationship.