Routine vs. Ritual

“It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.  Religion just a bunch of meaningless rules and rituals.”

While this sentiment is very popular and describes something many people live by, it may not be the best description of what the Christian faith is or entails.  If we were to think this, if someone were to look at scripture and read the many times David says “I love the rules and rituals” and how Paul describes the law as that which reveals sin, and it also shows the heart of God to the believer through the rituals observed.

Example: LORD’s Supper/Communion/Eucharist

This expression of worship has been a highly debated point for centuries.  I have just begun to learn its spiritual and ritualistic use over the last 6 months or so.  For me, it had always been “just a symbol,” something to do to remember the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross.  The more I have become intimated with this topic in theology, the more I am awakened to the authenticity of its observance in conveying something so much more than I had made it.  It is, as my Pastor Jay Mathis says “A sermon without words.”  It proclaims the death of Christ until His coming…but just the once a quarter schedule, but continually, consistently, every Sunday.  When you come to take of communion, God is preaching His grace and blessing upon you.  As you eat of the bread, indeed, there is nothing “mystical or magical” physically present in the anatomic nature of the bread and wine (grape juice…I was raised baptist), but in my emotions, my heart, mind, soul, and strength, it is proclaiming the gospel to me every Sunday.  Since I must be in right standing with God having no unconfessed sins in my life when I take communion, it reminds me to live my life in a state of repentance, making sure as long as it depends on me to be at peace with everyone, and I come Sunday morning confessing sin and receiving blessing.  If you are not blessed in your heart, mind, soul, and strength when you interact with God (since these are what we are supposed to love God entirely with) then there is something lacking, something missing, a great void in the way you observe things which were meant to be sacred and mysterious (Latin: Sacramentum; Greek: Mysterio – μυστήριο = meaning: “wonder” or “amazement”).  So we can see that these “Ritual” are meant to give us a sense of wonder or amazement in their practice and observance.  Truly, if someone does indeed practice such things and there is no sense of wonderment or amazement, no movement of the soul towards worship, such a ones observance is meaningless and void of any true worship and blessing.

As Mark Driscoll states “Ritual is when there’s meaning, value, purpose, mission, and passion in what you do because of Jesus.”  You see, ritual is not bad, it is not unauthentic, it is not fake.  A real ritualistic lifestyle is passionate, it is deep, it is full of purpose and meaning.  It is, however, left to the worshiper whether or not they are going to authentically observe such rituals.  This is done by continually preaching the gospel in your spiritual life.  It is not only the power to save at conversion, it is the power to sustain and preserve the believer in the faith God has given them.  We can see that in relationships, the couple has certain things they like to do; go on long drives/trips/travel, coffee shops, bike riding, running/walking, picnics, sitting to observe creation, sports, concerts, bars/clubs/pubs/wine lounges, and other things which the couple enjoys to do habitually that bring great significance to the couple.  We can see how this can be a great picture of the modern view of “having a relationship” with Jesus.  A great article to read is Mark’s blog on the church at Sardis.  Click Here to Read the Article.

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