Ritual or Relationship?
Neither did they say, ‘Where is the LORD, Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness. (Jeremiah 2:6)
Christianity is an intimate, growing relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is not a set of doctrines to believe, habits to practice, or sins to avoid. Every activity God commands is intended to enhance His love relationship with His people.
God designed worship for us to see Him in His glory and to respond appropriately; for many it has degenerated into “religion,” one more meeting to attend out of habit. God established the sacrificial system so that we, His people, could express our love to Him; but we often diminish our gifts to our Lord into futile attempts to appease Him and to pacify our guilty conscience. God gave us prayer so we could have conversation with Him, but we often distort this by “saying prayers” and hurrying off without ever listening to what is on our Father’s heart. God instituted His commandments as a protection for those He loves, but the commandments can become a pathway to legalism rather than an avenue for a relationship with our Father in which He protects us from harm.
Religious activity apart from fellowship with God is empty ritual. The people of Jeremiah’s day were satisfied to have the ritual without the manifest presence of God. They became so comfortable with their “religion” that they didn’t even notice God’s absence. Is it possible to pray, to attend a worship service, or to give an offering yet not to experience the presence of God? It certainly is possible! And that has been the sad commentary on many a Christian experience. Don’t settle for a religious life that lacks a vital relationship to Jesus Christ. When God is present, the difference will be obvious.