Read Jeremiah 7:4-8
4 But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!” 5 But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6 only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. 7 Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.
8 “‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! (NLT)
Back in the Middle Ages, church buildings were sanctuaries for fleeing criminals. The civil authorities had no power over the criminal whilst in the building. The building itself had power. And it seems the people in Jeremiah’s day had the same attitude.
Their faith had become a matter of repetitive ritual. They went through the motions, complacently believing that the temple was their sanctuary. The temple, after all, was a sign of God’s presence. But the people extended that meaning to believe it was also a sign of God’s favour. Which it was not.
The temple was meant to show them that God was among them, but that this God also had expectations of them. His presence was meant to urge them to live lives pleasing to him. In turn, that meant acts of what we might call social justice. He wanted more than repeated religious ceremonies, more than externals.
When it comes to relating to God, our only security is our trust in the perfect goodness of Jesus. All ritual and ceremony, all external acts, are to spring from that. Church attendance, sacraments, Bible knowledge—all good, but not our ultimate sanctuary. We rest in what Jesus has done for us and our whole of life response to that in good works. Anything less is mere religion.