Following Rituals

6 11 2007

Scripture:

Galatians 4:9-11 NIV  But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?  ..10..  You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!  ..11..  I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

 

Galatians 4:30-31 NIV  But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son."[3]  ..31..  Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

 

 

Observations:

A few years ago I attended a Hebraic worship service.  Most of the elements of a typical Jewish service were present.  The main difference being the recognition of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  It was a great experience for me.  Over the course of a few minutes I was flooded with a sense of my spiritual heritage.  Prior to that Sabbath morning opportunity, I had looked at my spiritual heritage from the standpoint of my immediate and ancestral family.  But that morning, I began to see how my Christian experience had roots back to the beginning of time.  Not just 150 years ago and the second great awakening.  Not just 200 years ago to the establishment of the Christian church.  But all the way back to Isaac, Jacob, and Abraham.  All the way back to Moses.  All the way back to creation and to Adam and Eve.  It was an eye-opening epiphany that changed the way I worship and the way I see God.

 

Since then I’ve had other opportunities to experience God through ancient rituals.  Each time I see the rituals, and God, in different ways.  Recently, we experienced an ancient Jewish circumcision ceremony when my son was circumcised.  It was a powerful experience and I will never forget it.

 

However, I have friends who continue to practice many of the old testament rituals that were eliminated at the Cross.  I see no harm in that.  Rediscovering the principles that God intended to teach – that is always a good thing.  But to just blindly practice these rituals, without any thought or growth disturbs me.  Paul tells us to not be enslaved by them.

 

Sometimes I even wonder about the rituals that have not been eliminated?  Are we learning?  Are we growing?  Or, are we merely going through the motions and enslavement to a works-oriented religiosity?

 

 

Applications:

If you know me, you know that I take most rules pretty lightly.  I don’t necessarily obey the crosswalk signal and I’ve been known to make more than one illegal U-turn.  However, you may not know that I think through each of these experiences pretty thoroughly before I decide to break or keep the law.  Indeed, before I engage in the communion experience, I process its value and teachings.  Because of my value of authenticity, it is difficult for me to practice a ritual for no apparent reason.

 

I don’t have friends, if we’re not friends. I don’t keep things if they have no use or meaning.  And I don’t practice certain disciplines if I’m not “there.

 

 

Prayer:

Father God, just for today, let me see how the daily grind fits into your plan.  Open my eyes and pull me closer to you.  Take my heart, take my life, take my will – and teach me to follow you even when I don’t know why – or where you’re taking me.

 

gw

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